On the road sometimes means more than simply being on the road.
I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
Like the hexagram of the heavens
Like the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm
— Joni Mitchell: Amelia
Ever since the release of Hejira, possibly the seminal album by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, “Amelia” has been something more than just a favorite song.
It is an anthem to the road, to change, and to the many mistakes we make both on the highway and in our life’s journey.
And we all make mistakes. We have to.
Because we have to find out for ourselves if something really is.
Sometimes it is relationships or rabbit holes of creating art that didn’t work. It could be a business venture that went belly up, leaving you holding the bag, or a wrong turn that takes you to a dead-end smack dab in the middle of nowhere.
It could be circumnavigating the world in a tiny airplane.
I have failed at nearly everything many times.
I think of it as the most successful of learning experiences — or at least the ones that left the biggest impressions.
The failed relationships, business ventures, and various and sundry art projects I have worked on since I was 10 years old, have all served me well, even when they were failures.
That’s the way it is when you try to create something. Anything.
You bust your ass getting it to a point where you can even identify what you are doing, and then bust your ass to bring it into the world.
And you think you have something…
And then, for some reason or another, you realize you don’t.
“Amelia, it was just a false alarm.”
So you know what you do?
You go out and do it again. And again.
The road to making art is cursed and charmed. The road to anywhere — everywhere, actually— is both cursed and charmed.
Charmed by where we want to go, we are cursed to leave behind what we had possibly grown fond of.
A few of us ride into the stratosphere, buoyed by our success. Or at least what we identify success as being.
And some of us get off the road and never go back, staying content in our 3bd/2bth ranch style in the cul-de-sacs of life.
But a few of us fly so intensely that we risk being swallowed by the sky, ending up descending out of control. Like Icarus remade into a Marvel action movie.
Each of us makes those choices at some point on the road.
The creative road.
The road of dreams.
And false alarms.