What’s Next?

I’m sorry that I’m a little late in getting this week’s blog post out. But I want to start by thanking all those who have graciously given such kind words of support to my mom, the band and me after the death of my dad.  It has been a very difficult week, but one that has been tempered by the kindness of friends and strangers alike.  I have read every email, text, Facebook post, message, tweet, Instagram and card that you have sent our way. Your words have helped to round the sharp edges of pain and buffer the impact of such a cruel loss.

I am left thinking about a question/statement that I have often used, but whose true meaning has been lost on me until now.  “What’s next” has represented many things in my life.  It has been a to-do-list of superficial errands, like buy the extra light bulb, gas up the car, drop off the mail and pay that already week-late bill.  It has been a question unnecessary to ask, because my online calendar shared across all platforms of my being, has dutifully reminded me of what has been expected in the next hour, day and week.   “What’s Next” has been color-coded red for band rehearsals and gigs, orange for bills due, blue for a side job schedule, and an all too infrequent green, for a day in the woods or on the river.  Even for the less mundane and more creative tasks, the question brings with it an expectation of an answer and completion.  Call the booking agent back.  Schedule a new song rehearsal.  Try out a new studio for recording the next album.  Create a social media blitz to get fans out to the next gig.  Take the next exit.  Drive a hundred more miles and the gig will be down on your left and after that, the hotel will be farther down on the right.

“What’s next” is now a much broader question of what my life will look like in a new normal.  “What’s Next” will define the man I will  be in the second act of my life and the role that music and the creative arts will play in it all.  For the first time in my life, it seems that the phrase asks a question without simultaneously providing an answer. “What’s next” is bigger than a destination on my phone’s GPS.  It’s bigger than all the overly confident, but well-meaning advice that I’ve recently received.  Everything seems bigger and weightier to me now.  In fact, the phrase I once used to define the question of infinite distance, “from my window to the farthest star,” now barely describes a quick walk around the block.  The destination and the process of getting there is all new now.  Nevertheless, I think I’ll still rely on my old friend the To-Do-List to get there.

So, what’s next? Here are the first 20+ things! (in an ever-changing order)

  1. Runaway Home back on the road and making music this Saturday Sept. 27th.
    Jim Parker Songwriter Series at Von Braun Center – September 27th @ 6:30pm
  2. Finish recording the Runaway Home sophomore CD this fall and winter
  3. Finish the Lilly May song Video
  4. Work up the new Runaway Home songs and stage show
  5. Finish writing my book Starmount
  6. Work on the companion CD to Starmount
  7. Start a second book before I finish the first one, so I don’t look stupid when I call publishers and tell them that I’m an author they should consider
  8. Get tall mountain trails under my feet and wild rivers under my boat
  9. Sing the last background vocals on Roy Hurd’s great new CD
  10. Stand up for things I believe in, even if they aren’t particularly convenient or popular
  11. Support and encourage my creative friends (including my potter-mom) to never give up
  12. Ask my creative friends to do the same for me
  13. Lose enough weight to get behind the dryer and put the damn vent hose back on
  14. Fill up the radiator on the jeep, it’s leaking again
  15. Write a new song that’s not sad
  16. Stop looking at the vegetables on my plate as just presentation garnish
  17. Have a glass of Lagavulin 16 around my pioneer fire ring out back
  18. Be less jealous of the songs on the radio, I never wanted to write those songs anyway
  19. Start a documentary film about something and someone important....more on that soon!
  20. Go on a date (probably ought to move this up the list a bit)
  21. Mend some fences that I broke and left rusted long ago
  22. Play music for you in this band that I love

** oh yeah, one more thing.  Pay the water bill – I’m always late on that one!

“What’s next” for you and how can we help?

Mark Elliott – Runaway Home
“it’s the music that makes us smile.”

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