April 2019: Freedom
Attended my fifth Colin James concert a couple of weeks ago (including the acoustic guitar duets with Chris Northey way back when in a small venue that allowed me to sit in the third row—nearly close enough to make eye contact); and he never fails to impress. So I was a bit puzzled by my melancholy mood the following day as it felt different from the usual post-excited, exertion crash that comes with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome territory.
Listening to his 1990s upbeat big-band-sound CDs only generated a bittersweet sensation. As I mulled this over, my brain began to make connections. There was the nostalgia of reconnecting with a college buddy which of course brought a bit of reminiscing from our young adulthood. What we would have told our younger selves! In that cosmic quirk of old friends picking up a long-lost conversation as if no time had passed, it was like travelling through a worm hole that holds past, present, and future concurrently. Like there was some energetic thread tenuously holding it all together. But I digress.
My ah-ha moment came when my brain associated this event with the last time I attended a Colin James performance. I even commented on it to my concert companion. A little more than two years ago, I was struggling in my unraveling marriage and told myself ‘hang in there’ until the Colin James concert in March. And somehow I did.
Unbeknownst to me, the Universe was conspiring to help me make huge changes in my life and preparing a path for me. Arrangements began falling into place, and by June there was a solid plan to implement when the time was right.
As I reflect upon my situation two years ago to now, it occurred to me that Colin James supported me in ways of which he is completely unaware. His music and his lyrics not only energize me, they also comfort and encourage me. Last night he played one of my favourites: Freedom. And I was able to sing along with renewed gusto. The only way the concert could have topped its thrilling magic was if he had played Walkin’ Blues –whose meaning is of course inexorably linked to Freedom on my life journey.
Freedom: liberation from incarceration. So much more than being freed from a physical prison. I felt held captive in a 20-year marriage with manacles so imperceptible it took a powerful magnifying glass to find them in order to release myself. Even stronger were the mental shackles: some of my own making, others conditioned in my upbringing. A network of core beliefs and ingrained negative thought patterns that became self-reinforcing, as they usually do, in the long run.
Colin James helped me think outside the proverbial box of my core beliefs. Come to think of it, he also helped me to emote on a much deeper, more thoughtful, level by connecting me with the intense roots of the Blues, powerful both communally and individually. Most important, he helped me choose freedom. Freedom to find myself. Freedom to be myself. Freedom to live congruently with the beliefs I kept and new ones that I embraced.
I owe Colin James a debt of gratitude which I could never express, let alone repay. I thank him for being the musician, as well as the person, of integrity that he is. He plays a significant role on my healing journey toward integration and expression of Self. As I try to put this experience into words, it’s more of an ephemeral feeling than solid thought. And I think that’s the beauty of music and shared experience: meant to be lived in the moment and savoured upon reflection.