You see, sometimes there are days when I wonder about this choice I've made here, driving for hours alone in my van with almost 200,000 miles on it without the current means right now to buy myself what I would like (a Prius, used, even, but better gas mileage and not on the verge of breaking down). Driving alone for hours with an IPhone loaded with great music. Driving alone for hours with the company of the voices in my head. And sometimes the voices are welcome company. When they gift me lyrics or uncover memories or just swirl around in places for meaning and connection. And sometimes those voices lead me down dark paths of disconnection and, if I'm truthful, vulnerability and loneliness. And thus began today. Fighting the dark voices. Alone in my van. After a wonderful night of playing music and a great show, a great audience. Sometimes the voices are just in a bad mood because the clouds are out. Nothing more dramatic than that. And you wait for them to change their mood. Or you feed them: John Moreland's new record, Otis Gibbs' podcasts, NPR. But sometimes, like today, the voices take me to questioning this path, this solo journey, the choices I've made. And there I was in my little self-contained swirl this afternoon as the sky opened up to blue sunshine along the little road I found myself on. 30A. A familiar road from Nashville bumper stickers I've seen from the songwriter's festival I've never been to. And as I had Robert Ellis' brilliant new record playing and was thinking about how it must be amazing to be here during that gathering of song, I pass Robert Ellis Street. And it stopped me. And shut the voices up in my head. And then that little road became yellow brick and strange magic began to occur. This afternoon I was to play Central Records, a cool indy record store here along the beach in Florida. And the dudes who work there were super friendly and welcoming and I literally expected nobody to show up, but as I plugged in, the shop became full of people, old and young, holding glasses of wine and cans of PBR, people who came intentionally, people who would lean their heads in and I watched their bodies be drawn in by the music. Hipsters who just about an hour ago I would have thought in my dark self-flagellation wouldn't pay attention to me at all. And folks who reminded me of my own parents. A young guy, probably early 30's, holding a newborn bundled in pink smiling at me in surprise as if finding me and my music was the best part of his walk with his daughter. And even the hipsters who worked there were smiling and listening. And my view from where I stood and sang "The Sea & The Shore"? A doorway to the ocean as the sun set pink along the fading blue sky, the blue waters lapping up along that white sand and the sky bursting with pastel. And I thought, I am lucky. And at one point I forgot the lyrics to my song "Ghost" because I was honestly distracted by the sunset and the thought of my grandfather the sailor along those waves and I invited someone who had bought the record to hand me the lyric book and up walked this older man who had something of my Dad in him, in multicolored Madras shorts, bright yellow and blue sneakers, and multicolored glasses. He held out the lyrics and gave me his glasses and we both just laughed through this whole spontaneous bit. And I hugged him at the end of the song. And at the end of the show, when someone asked me where I was staying and I said I'd be driving towards Jacksonville and finding a motel along the road, this man with the shorts and the glasses and his wife offer for me to stay in their guest room in their condo. Stu and Jane Campbell from Chicago who spend 3 months a year here in Florida. But they need an hour or so to get the room ready, they said, so a few girls who were at the show standing there buying my record, girls who seem cool and hip and beautiful and stylish in an East Nashville kind of way, offer to take me to dinner and I find out that 2 of them are new transplants to Nashville (where I live now) from Jersey City (where I moved to Nashville from). And the other is an incredibly smart and interesting woman from DC who lives here part time who took me on a walking tour of the artist retreat and talked to me of the tight knit community here who, I swear I would hire as a tour manager if she'd have me. She said, 'We take care of each other here. We don't let anyone fall down. We're right there to pick them back up if they do.' And as the night sky grew chilly and I drove to meet Stu and Jane I thought of my own parents who had spent a month in Florida 2 years ago before my mother's health had started getting squirrelly, and how happy they were and how young they looked for that month. And I thought: I am lucky. How blessed I am to wander and stumble and sometimes intentionally walk down this yellow brick road I'm on, albeit alone, to bump into strangers who take me in and tell me their stories. And distract me from the voices in my head that tell me I should be doing something else.