June 18, 2018
Okay, I’ll write about the book now.
Really this piece is about the original message of the blog: Good things happen when you put yourself out there. The book – November: A Month in Europe with Sarah Smith – is just an illustration of the point.
I didn’t set out to write a book. Back when Sarah asked me to go on tour in Europe with her I simply had an intuition that said I should write a tour blog. I didn’t know why and I don’t know where the idea came from, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s what intuition is. In a lot of cases, it’s just an idea. I’ve spent years and years thinking of intuition as burning bushes on the side of the road, and then wondering why I never seem to have any intuitions. Maybe I’ve been looking at it the wrong way. Maybe in the end intuition is really just a thought in your head.
A thought that sparks a feeling.
That’s the key, I think. Sometimes you get an idea and it disappears as quickly as it came. Not intuition. Other times you get an idea that makes you buzz just a little. It excites you. It scares you even. It lingers. It pokes at you. It won’t go away. That was the original tour blog idea for me. It came into my head and right away I felt something in it. There were no angels singing and there were no irrefutable tears of joy. There was just resonance. The wiser I get, the more I pay attention to that resonance.
So I wrote a tour blog. Well, let’s back up. First I bought a domain name. And then I paid for web hosting. And then I built this website. And then I bought a tablet to take with me on the road. And then … I just wrote. Every day of the tour I wrote. When I was tired I wrote. When I was sick I wrote. When it was nap time I wrote. When we only had a few spare minutes I wrote. Having made the commitment to do the work, having surrendered to the intuition, I faithfully followed the command and wrote.
I did it without expectation. I didn’t know if there would be an audience or if it would connect with people. I didn’t look for results. I simply did the work. If you’ve read the blog or the book, you know that I wrote a few times about this idea that we have the right to our labour, but not the results of our labour. The thing about intuition is that you have to let go of the results. You have to trust that if you do what your gut is telling you to do, and you give it your best, good things will happen.
The original blog did indeed find an audience. People were anxiously awaiting it every day on both sides of the ocean. Sarah’s fans back in Canada felt a deeper connection with her than they had before. People in Europe were excited to read about our adventures – especially the ones they got to experience. I had fans coming up to me at shows to say how much they enjoyed reading it and pestering me to know when the next entry would be posted. It took on a little life of its own within the expanding Sarah universe. It was gratifying and a lot of fun.
It was also a kind of breakthrough for me.
If you’ve been following along you’ll also know that, as I said in the book, I aspired seriously to literature before I aspired seriously to music. In fact, music came along only after I abandoned writing for my own sanity. It had become toxic and filled with pressure and, if I’m honest, tainted by an ego that wanted to be satisfied. It ate away at whatever fragile gift I had that produced several novels (unpublished) before it withered on the vine. Instead of inspiring me, writing depressed me, so I gave it up. Almost immediately thereafter I had the most vivid intuition of my life. A voice so real it was almost audible said, “You need to start playing music now.”
Did I say good things happen when you put yourself out there? My story in music is amazing to me. The book is one small piece of a greater surrender to intuition that has changed my life beyond all recognition. And now, in a beautifully circular twist, following my intuition to music has led, perhaps, to my rebirth as a more mature writer.
The blog found an audience. There was something in it that worked, as so often happens when a project comes from what the great Geoff Thompson would called divinity. Sarah recognized it. When we got back from Europe she presented the idea of turning it into a book. That’s the other thing that happens with intuition: when you follow it, the people and pieces begin to fall into place. Things grow organically by the most extraordinary coincidences and bits of luck. Where there was once nothing there is now a printed book. Who saw that coming? And where might it lead?
I don’t know and it’s not up to me. Following my intuition has already rewarded me far beyond what I might have thought. It can reward you too if you absorb the lessons. If you’re struggling to recognize intuition, start by paying attention to ideas that resonate with you. If you’re scared of whatever idea you’ve got, so much the better. If there’s an idea that just won’t go away (I’m wrestling with one of those at the moment), give it some attention. If it persists, there’s probably something in it.
If you’ve got an intuition you can’t deny, I urge you to follow it. Do the thing. Try it out. Do your homework and do it smart, but still do it. You have no idea what doors may open, what experiences may await, what life-changing events may unfold.
What dreams may come true.