From our fast-moving diarist Anthea Kreston:
I have an irrational and unavoidable obsession with my own death. It’s been around so long, I don’t really know when it started, and since I can’t get rid of it, I decided to embrace it and allow it to affect my life and decisions in a positive, rather than negative way. Death isn’t negative, anyway – it’s just a part of life – like birth, illness, success, failure, dreaming, challenging yourself, taking risks, falling in love, staying in love, being inspired by others, expanding kindness, learning, being bored, making mistakes, stressing out, losing things that you love, growing a plant from a seed. And like most of the things on this list, it can happen at any moment. I guess, actually, my obsession is with the things that immediately precede death. That can be two things – a long illness, or a split second. And I always think – where do I want to have my cancer, or where do I want to spend the day before I get hit by a bus? It’s like those favorite pair of jeans that you wore forever. And you patched the knees, and then made them into cut-offs, and you met that guy when you were wearing them, and you jumped off that rope-swing in them. And then, one day, it was your last day wearing them. And you didn’t know it was your last day. You just stopped putting them on, and they became a memory, something that accompanied through a certain part of your life, just like you, yourself will be a part of many people’s lives, and one day, they just won’t put you on anymore, because you had so many patches, or you shrunk in the wash. But when those people think about the time they jumped off that rope-swing on that hot day, they will remember those jeans cut-offs, or you, or the mosquitos.
And so, I wanted to pick the place where I will have my cancer, or my heart attack. And if there is one day left, or 10,000 days left, it doesn’t matter. For me it is always one day. And the place is a small town in Oregon.
What does being a musician mean? It’s about more than your hands on your chosen instrument, playing notes, dynamics, rhythms. It’s about being in touch with the past, and future, and your current self. And being in touch with the intangible nature of being a human. For me – making a sound on an actual instrument is such a small part of being a musician, and because I know I will die at any moment, I am completely immune to the pressures of having a steady job, or prestige. As long as I have the money to provide for my family and a safe place to live, that’s all the career I need.
And so, as I sit on the first leg of our flight to Idaho from Berlin, between Jason and our two daughters, we start on the next part of our journey. Two weeks in Idaho, 2 in Chengdu, 2 in Berlin, and a big move back to Corvallis, Oregon. Sure, I have enough concerts and stuff like that lined up, with some spicy touring next season. And some very cool podcasts, which I can do from the studio in our new home – one window looking at the snow-capped mountains, one towards the wild ocean. And maybe my own radio show. But most of all, I will be with my family in a safe, wonderful place, with friends and good food, and clean air.
Last night, as I was making shorts out of my youngest daughter‘s favorite pair of jeans, I thought to myself – “what an amazing story these jeans will tell“. Here‘s to all of our favorite jeans! May they all jump into many lakes, climb many mountains, and drink many beers with that guy.