*** I have to start off by saying, from the bottom of my heart, this story is in no way intended to be a name drop, nor is it meant to exploit anyone. I believe that after you read the full story this will be plain enough for you to see. ***
Every Mile A Memory
So there I was: Nashville, Tennessee.
Standing on a sidewalk in the southwest side of town, in front of a local cafe. I was mostly in town for vacation, with a dash of music business thrown in. This particular day I was wandering around by myself, on my way to get brunch. I had been on the phone with one of my friends, but the call had quite suddenly dropped. I used the moment to take in my surroundings. The dull-red cobblestone that lined the path made the trees planted every ten feet or so pop out, giving the street a real local neighborhood vibe, regardless of the sporadic tourists walking about.
Should I take a picture of this scene? I thought to myself. I could send it into the cloud that stores all of the photos I will most likely never share, nor know what to do with at the end of my life when I’m left with millions of moments that were never posted or shared, and perhaps become lost to the digital sands of time.
I decided that, yes, I will capture this moment.
My phone directed towards the cobblestone, I started to take the picture, only to have a man and a little girl exit the local cafe I was in front of and totally ruin my perfectly composited shot by walking into frame. I tried really hard to be annoyed at my picture being ruined, but I immediately got over it when I saw the joy plastered on the face of this Dad and daughter; her princess crown slightly askew on her head, she had a smile that was toothy and excited. His smile was one of contentment and joy, and he immediately staged his daughter for a picture (facing the same way that my attempted Pulitzer-prize smartphone pic would’ve been, the trees and cobblestone in the background). I thought about my nieces and how I love capturing moments with them, then I quickly thought that I should offer to take a picture of them together, that way this Dad can truly be in the moment with his little girl.
“Hey, would you like me to take a picture of you guys together?” I asked. The Father’s familiar face lit up and he said, “Dude, I would never pass that up! Thanks!”
He handed me his phone and they posed together, a much better composition than the scenery alone, and I had a brief thought of hey, this guy looks familiar. A lot like Dierks Bentley. But you don’t just randomly run into one of your favorite country artists and take a picture for him, because that’s silly.
I snapped a few pictures and handed the phone back to the Dad. He stuck out his hand, thanked me, and said “My name’s Dierks.” And I replied with a “Nice to meet you, Dierks, my name’s Clint.” But in my head I was thinking – Oh s**t, it really is Dierks Bentley. What are the odds? I guess the odds are better than I thought. Shoot, Up On The Ridge is one of my favorite albums of all-time… and we have some mutual friends back in Texas. I definitely don’t want to bother him, but it’d be cool just to chat for a second.
All of these thoughts happened in the blink of an eye, mind you.
So I acknowledged that I knew who he was, and we proceeded to talk shop about music and Texas and the mutual friends we have. He genuinely asked me how my career was going, which I appreciated, although I didn’t ask him how his career is going, since he has obviously accrued a certain level of success that stands on ts own, without the question needing to be asked. We continued talking for a minute, shooting the breeze as people who are in mixed company say, but the most profound part of our conversation came when I asked him what they were celebrating – since his daughter had a crown and what not, I assumed it was her birthday. He looked at me with a real gleam in his eye and said “I’m just celebrating getting to hang out with my little girl.”
There it was. This singer that I’ve looked up to for close to a decade, who has played all over the world and has thousands of fans, and the fame and fortune that a lot of musicians and songwriters hope and sometimes even strive for, he has all that. But he was so happy and proud to simply be Dad… to get a day off and hang out with his little girl. It was such a down to earth and cool moment already, but this really set it in stone and in my heart for me.
Down The Road I Go
Friends, I have reached a point in my life where my desire is not to be famous in my career, but rather to be a Husband and Father, and to raise a family that knows the difference between a good Father and THE good Father. But I have struggled with that desire at times, especially when the world tells me I should be striving for a level of financial success that can come with immense popularity. And if that happens, awesome. I pray that I handle it appropriately and with a correct heart and mindset. But if all I ever do is build a secure and loving family up in this world, with some music and writings that hopefully meant something to somebody along the way, I am perfectly content in that.
Be passionate, and dream big, but be aware of all of your passions, and nurture them wherever possible. Don’t let the world prioritize your life for you. Heck, I could write a whole other post about all of that, so I won’t belabor the point.
At the end of the exchange, Dierks thanked me again for taking the time to snap that picture of he and his daughter, and I told him I hope he enjoyed the rest of his day. We turned to go opposite ways down the street.
And so there I was: Nashville, Tennessee, facing the same dull-red cobblestone path, absorbing it all in again. I thought of the picture I was originally going to take, and how beautiful the natural and urban elements meshed. Then I thought of how even that kind of beauty can be exceeded when combined with the human element and a heartfelt love.
Make miles out of your memories, friends, and carry your passions with love.