Sometimes it's the small and mundane stuff. Turning a leftover chicken into delicious Moroccan stew. Grinding through some minor 5th grade math struggles. Doing a small kindness for some folks doing some great hard work. And listening to someone figuring out a very lovely "Amazing Grace" on the fiddle. All in all, a simple harvest moon kind of night. At peace, for the moment, in the moment.

Every time it happens, I think of those kids at Newtown. The circumstances change, the body counts fluctuate, the excuses rarely do. Neither do the ghosts that visit me. Their class picture, along with their teacher and the others. I squeezed my kid extra hard and long tonight, because I still can. She was in kindergarten when Newtown happened. I'll never forget what she asked while we struggled to explain; "were they bad kids?"

I shed a tear or two; I wish I could say it was for the victims and the families in Las Vegas. They are far more than I can comprehend. It was a tear for my own numbness at yet another mass murder, and my apparent indifference, because if I haven't helped find a solution, after Newtown, the Navy Yard, San Bernandino, or Blacksburg, or any of the dozens of others that scar my memories in the last 20 years, I must be part of the problem.

Feeling overwhelmed? Me too.

It is breathtaking and stunning to take in all that has transpired since I finished last month's essay. Armed Nazis, Klansmen and Confederate sympathizers marching in lockstep through the streets of a city here in my state. One catastrophic hurricane unleashed on Houston, while another takes aim at Florida and the southeast. Wildfires in the west consuming iconic and revered landscapes. Flooding displacing millions in other parts of the world. Never-ending wars and barbarism sprawling across the lands which birthed most of the world's religions. A lunatic strapping a nuke to a rocket in North Korea. Arctic permafrost melting to a degree not seen in recorded history. All amid the ongoing daily routines, of getting ready for school, and work, and tending to the mundane rituals of life.

It seems huge and crazy, and out of whack....

And so it is done. The last first day of walking to school. I can now say with some certainty what the distance is between kindergarten and 5th grade - astonishingly short.

We began this journey 6 years ago, but in some ways our innocence about the world then versus now seems so quaint. Newtown happened within a few months of our starting this journey...

It is heartening that after flipping the odometer this many times, that one can still feel special on this day thanks to a few kind words and well-wishes from friends close and casual, and physically near and far. Each comment allowing me the gift to reflect for a moment on how or where we connected, and to think of that person in that moment. How they might be doing this very moment that they reached out to me.

I realized something not long ago that is having profound implications for me personally. I have "outlived" the imaginings of my youth...

The connection between my electric guitar and one of my favorite fruits

Music has always been in my house. I suppose it was inevitable that I would play guitar, and probably the only reason I didn't start until I was eleven or so was that Dad's classical was impossible to play, and his Supro Belmont electric only slightly less so. It took that long to be willing to put my fingers through it! But I wanted "into the club", and guitar was going to be my ticket, so I endured the seemingly six-inch high string action on the Belmont and tried to play barre chords.

By the time I was fourteen, I was craving a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar...

Most certainly an AnceStory of unintended consequences and lifelong implications.

My parents, sister and I just returned from the trip of a lifetime, the "Last Great Nuclear Family Vacation" - a 16-day odyssey to the homelands of our ancestors in Ireland and Scotland. While my parents had always had some interest in visiting "someday", two factors conspired to bring it into startling real-time relief....

"Paddy," I asked of my companion, "what do you think of when you look out there across the sea?" I had met this gentle soul a little farther back down the road towards Donegal town on the way to the spectacular cliffs at Slieve League. Soaring nearly 2,000 feet in elevation from the water's edge, breathtaking is a bit insufficient description....

Long ago in what feels like a galaxy far far away, I went to grad school at UMass to be an Environmental Engineer. My first year I lived in Northampton in an apartment, and right at the beginning of the semester this woman answered our call for a roommate. Alyssa Sheehan had just returned from living abroad in China and Japan, but she was from nearby Springfield.

I can honestly say I've never met anyone like Alyssa before or since...

Where to begin on this just completed, epic nuclear family odyssey to Ireland and Scotland? It was partly my discoveries in our family history that got my dad excited to go. He had expressed a desire to bring a little soil from his grandfather's gravesite in Forestville CT to return to the "Auld Sod". When I learned the grave location of Andrew McKnight and Sarah Milliken (his grandfather's parents) in West Calder, Scotland just a few weeks ago, the mission was set....

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Tour Dates

  • 10/25/2017
    The Music Cafe - Damascus, MD
     
  • 10/29/2017
    Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Greater Cumberland - Cumberland, MD
     
  • 10/29/2017
    Tree of Life Yoga Studio - Bedford, PA
     
  • 10/30/2017
    Institute of Musical Traditions, Saint Mark Presbyterian Church - Rockville, MD
     
  • 11/02/2017
    The Blue Side - Frederick, MD
     

HAPPENINGS

SPECIAL THANKS

Andrew is a grateful Endorsing Artist for Elixir Strings and Fairbuilt Guitars, and a member of the Virginia Commission for the Arts Touring Artist Roster. He also is a member of The Standing "O" Project and Concerts in Your Home.

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