A Year, Reviewed (The Macro)

It would be a book, really. If I tried to write it all down, every meaningful, discouraging, and/or hilarious story.

There have been years of my life that could be summed up in a chapter or paragraph (or, in the case of “9th grade sucked.”, a sentence) but this was not one of those years. When we were in Nashville recently, a friend at church attempted to pin me down on an answer: “Okay, so level with me: scale of 1-10. Be honest.”

I almost didn’t have time to think before I responded: “One and Ten, and not much in between.”

Heather said it best, a few months ago. “When you look at this year on the Macro Level, it’s been amazing; a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The things we’ve seen, the people we’ve met; getting to know people whose names I’ve heard from your previous tours… this is how I’ll remember it. But if you stopped and looked at it on the Micro Level, there are days when I’m stuck in an RV and I wonder how I’ll make it through even one more day.”

*points to nose*

So here’s the entry where I tell you about some of the Tens.

The Ones make for better stories, and I’ll get to that sometime this week. But for now, I just want to cover some of the highlights:

- Toured with our good friends Jenny & Tyler, and made new friend Vanita Joines
- Visited 45 States (only states missed: Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii).
- Went to an Alligator Farm in East Texas

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.33.16 PM

- Went to the Beach in Pensacola, FL. It was freezing and wonderful.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 5.11.26 PM

- Saw the Grand Canyon

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.35.28 PM

- Went to Disneyland

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.36.38 PM

- Bend, Oregon is nice.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.39.41 PM

- A day in Pike Place Market, Seattle

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.41.11 PM

- Mount Rushmore

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.42.16 PM

- The 2014 MLB All-Star Game, during which we ended up on the big screen.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.42.46 PM

- A mini-vacation in Maine.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.43.36 PM

- Spent time in Ferguson, MO

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.44.13 PM

- Met, and made friends with a few of my heroes, including Jesse Lacey of Brand New, members of Manchester Orchestra, and this guy: Hall of Fame Radio Broadcaster Eric Nadel:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.44.34 PM

-In one day, saw the Imperial Sand Dunes, Slab City, Salvation Mountain, and the Salton Sea

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.45.05 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.45.20 PM

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.45.37 PM

- The Redwood Forest in Northern California

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.45.57 PM

- We got to pet and feed a Giraffe in Colorado Springs, CO:

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.46.21 PM

- Niagara Falls

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.46.49 PM

- We took the kids to the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 4.48.05 PM- Fell more in love with my wife, as I saw the spectrum of her emotions; from the awe at the size of the sky in Arizona to the teetering edge of madness in Kansas City, but mostly how much time she spends balancing gracefully between those lines; how great a mother she is, and how desperately I need her when I am vacillating wildly between wanting to change the world and wanting to disengage from it forever.

- Learned that I was allowed to have a bad day, even when I was living my life dream (more on that in the “Micro” post).

- Introduced many of you to my family, and them to you. All of you who have been my family away from home; it meant everything to me to be able to have my family with me this time, to merge what had felt like two separate lives I was living into one, for which I am genuinely in grateful and humble awe.

- Kept a list, subtly at first, but more out in the open as the year went on, as to where we would end up when this year of traveling was over. A list of ~10 cities narrowed to 5-6, then three, then two… And late last month, before the last two shows of the year, we made our decision: When I come back from Europe, we will drive to Nashville to play one final full-band show, get our belongings from storage, and trek once again across the country that we criss-crossed for nearly 300 days, en route to our new home in…

…Seattle.



A Year Unreviewed

It’s December 21st. The shortest night of the year, as if this whole thing wasn’t going to be over soon enough.

I’ve just finished playing the last show of this Life Dream / Year On Tour / Year In An RV With My Family, and I’m backstage, staring into a mirror in the dressing room. I haven’t broken eye contact with myself in almost fifteen seconds, and it’s getting awkward.

My family and friends are out in the main room. Some of them I haven’t seen in years, but I have an abyss to stare down first.

People are probably giving up on the merch table, which is costing me money, but I can’t bring myself to go pretend this is just the end of a show. It’s the end of something much bigger than that. So I’m using my best glare to try to intimidate the aging man inside the mirror into giving me some words of encouragement.

But he’s as stoic (or hollow?) as I, and he’s old enough to know that I can’t outlast him. He’s seen this game before. He knows he can wait me out.

Thirty seconds.

Family and friends.

“I’ll be back for you” I whisper, and I make my way out.

——————————————————————

It’s technically December 22nd, and I want to write about this year while I’m still raw; while it’s still fresh. I want to sum it all up in poetic phrases and emotional outpourings of gratitude and We-Did-Its, but I’ve been fighting a cold for a week now, and the kids are asleep.

I am also almost asleep. I will stare me down for more answers later.

——————————————————————

It’s December 25th and this week, I have taken to seeing how long I can stay in the bathroom without my family noticing. For 297 days this year, I stood on stage almost as many nights as not, and told people how I battle depression, and that I was introducing my song “Dark Clay” by telling them this because I was staying visible, because I was making sure the light bouncing off was stronger than the darkness trying to swirl me into a Black Hole vortex, but now I’m hiding in bathrooms, disappearing in 5, 6, 7-minute increments.

Eight minutes.

But despite my choice in hideouts, there are no mirror rematches this week. No one accuses me of failure quite so effectively as he does, and I am weak enough today to believe it.

It seems like I should have cried by now. It feels like an occasion to cry. Maybe when I look in the mirror again, maybe I will cry, which will make him cry. Maybe he will be weak enough then to answer my questions. But I am too tired for that. And it’s still Christmas.

——————————————————————

It is December 31st. We are at a party full of family and friends. The party is made up 100% of parents and small children, so we count down at 8pm instead of midnight, as if this whole thing wasn’t going to be over soon enough.

In the bathroom again, I scroll through my Instagram feed. I will always be grateful for this year. This hard, trying, exhausting, beautiful, fulfilling, frustrating, heartbreaking, amazing adventure of a year. 2014 was really good to me; to us. I lived in an RV, and we went to 45 states, probably 35 of them more than once. It was a good year, wasn’t it?

I start to look into the mirror, but we both divert our eyes at the same time. Not yet.

Family and friends.

“I’ll be…”

I stop, and I sigh.

I leave without a word.

——————————————————————
It is January 3rd. I still have not cried. It still seems like the appropriate response, but…

I should cry, you know? I should really let this year out.

I open the computer and keep working on plans and details for my time in Europe. There is a lot of planning that goes into international travel, so I don’t have time for any more staring contests this week either. I am a man, and I am busy. I have business to attend to.

This doesn’t mean I am not allowed to cry, but it does mean that I have the capacity to pretend that putting it off is okay.

2014 was good.

I’ll tell you about it soon.



On Brokenness, Beauty, and Restoration.

I got an e-mail on September 25th via the website from a [name redacted].

I’m terrible at e-mail while driving / playing shows, but I I finally got a chance to reply today. Unfortunately, Hotmail kept sending it back, saying that the e-mail address didn’t exist. The words meant a lot to me, and some of my reply I’ve been meaning to write out for awhile now, so I’ll post it here and hope that [name redacted] sees it and knows that I am thankful for the message.

Message Body:
Dear Levi,

I came across THE LETTERS OF DR. KURT GODEL a couple months ago and thought perhaps I ought to share how it affected me. Here’s a bit from my journal:

Listening to Levi Weaver and I cannot decide whether I like his music, but I cannot stop listening. It is difficult to tell if it is breaking or healing my heart, or perhaps it is exposing the brokenness already there. Maybe he is expressing what I have felt but could not express. Isn’t that the beautiful gift artists have to give, to express what others feel but cannot express? Maybe at times artists express what we didn’t even know we felt until we encountered their art. Why does beauty break hearts? Is it that beauty reminds us of the way things ought to be? Does beauty remind us of our broken selves? Beauty is a glimmer of light in darkness, a beacon of hope in oceans of despair. It is the evidence of more to life that what we see.
Hey [name redacted]-
I’m sorry to have taken this long to reply. My manager forwarded this over when you sent it, but living in an RV, driving around, playing shows most nights, and having the family with me… e-mail gets pushed to the back burner a lot. Apologies.

It meant a lot to read what you wrote. Like any artist, I perpetually doubt my ability to convey any of these things. I recognize it in others; the Damien Rices, Keaton Hensons, Foy Vances, James Vincent McMorrows; the Bon Ivers, Chris Thiles, Casey Blacks and Benjamin Francis Leftwiches of the world. The devastating healing of resonant brokenness. I often wonder if I am just chasing an imitation of an imitation. That there is actual beauty in an ache that we cannot express, but they imitate it better than I, and so on.

Either way, it’s there. It’s all of the things you said. The recognition of brokenness – giving it a name and acknowledging its existence is far less exhausting than constantly trying to live as if it doesn’t exist; as if you’re the only one with this shameful secret that no one else can ever know. Once you hear it from someone else, there is a respite, a real rest in simply lying down in the dark for a moment and sighing that relieved sigh that says “at least I know I’m not the only one; I’m not crazy.”

I’ve also found, in struggles with depression, that giving it a name made it more bearable. “This? Ah, for years I ignored it and so like some poison vine it grew unabated. But now I call it by its name. This is depression. I have tools to fight depression. I do not have tools to fight some unnamed, ignored malaise, but this. This is finite.” It loses some of its mystique, but if the good things in life must lose theirs as we age, then why not the bad things?

And then yes, it is the other thing also: Not just an admission that we are, in fact, broken, but a glimmer of hope or memory or faith that “if this is, by definition, broken, then there must be an unbroken.” It’s a call, a groan, a striving for stitches, for glue, for restoration.

One of my favorite things this year, driving around the country, has been to see all the abandoned buildings and cars in various states of decay. I couldn’t explain why at first, but a few weeks ago, I figured it out. I love that, even though time is constantly battling us all, breaking us down… even so: part of me still sees in each abandoned barn or house or truck… “you know… with a bit of love…” I was subconsciously still trying to see what was not, or at least what was/is not yet. Or what once was, I don’t know.

Anyway, all of that to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do, and helping to fight off that self-doubt that says I have never and will never accomplish it. It means the world to me, and I’m sorry it took so long to say so.

-Levi