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.
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.