Cool news, friends!
Premiere TV has completed their video production of Spoken Groove Parable #1, Sometimes I Can See The Future. It's from the album This is Spoken Groove, which is available for digital download everywhere. It includes the story behind that piece, which barely missed the last cut of Justin Bieber's recent movie.
I've also finished the written version, which will be appearing (in 400-word format) in the upcoming version of /thoughts? magazine and a few more publications to be announced soon. If you like reading stories, or think it would work as a discussion piece for a school class, youth group, church, etc... you can read it and a couple discussion questions I included below... (Thanks to Joel Toombs for the idea on this!)
The Zebras On The Loose U.S. tour is taking shape. People in Austin, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Kingston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Stratford and more are already working on booking one-man shows, creative writing workshops and speaking engagements with my manager, Andy Baker. If you haven't gotten an email from him, and you'd like to book something in your town, email Andy now and set something up.
One more thing before the story. Vicki and I have discovered since we've gotten married that everything our culture says is crap, especially about dating. So we're going to write a book about what the really important stuff you need to know before you get married. We're going to call it, "Everything Our Culture Says Is Crap: Especially About Dating". If you like it, don't like it, want to add your tips or otherwise want to talk about it, just post your thoughts on my Facebook wall.
Spoken Groove Parable #1 - What Boys Need
Three blond tufts of hair sprouting from his chin and both sides of his head shouted "ADVENTURE!" after a gig in small-town Canada. Naturally, I followed crazy-haired Nathan to his little church, eager for some excitement. When the informal service ended, he introduced me to an 8-year old who could sing and play drums. He was good and very tiny. I'm sure I said something nice. That was it. No crazy adventure. Big deal.
Two years later my guitar wizard partner, Paul Finley, and I were back in Stratford, Ontario playing a show, setup by Nathan, at the Queen's Inn.
"Maybe that little kid you met a couple years ago could open for you guys, eh." he suggested with a Canadian rise in tone at the end of the sentence.
I figured everyone would love this tiny kid for his cuteness no matter how well he played, so I said, "Sure, why not?"
I was right. He was better than the other opener. The applause of 40 people and a stage clearly went to his head. His little voice chirped something to heckle me while I performed with Paul. Something witty flew from my mouth to the microphone and everyone laughed. The little kid quickly fired off some other comment and people laughed some more.
"Hey, I know what you're trying to do, little guy. You're trying to steal the show with your cuteness!"
The audience erupted in laughter. The little kid squinted his eyes and jumped up on stage to attack me. He only came up to my waist. I didn't move. A smile overpowered my brain as he wrestled with my right leg. This was performance gold.
"Look, everybody, I've got a little kid stuck to my leg! Hey, Paul, start the next song."
After a couple minutes attached to my leg, the little kid was back in his seat, beaming from all the attention. I knew he didn't have a full-time dad.
When the show ended, he bopped over to our merchandise table. This time I attacked him. We roughhoused until he couldn't handle any more. As he and his mom grinned their way home, my heart ached for him to have a father... and knew that it couldn't be me. Pretty soon Paul and I would be back on the road. More people with other needs were waiting.
A couple years later the little kid opened for us one more time at International Grounds, in Stratford, along with some other artists. He was cute and good again, so good that he decided to post some YouTube videos of himself singing. They got a ton of attention. Pretty soon Justin Bieber's face and adoring fans were everywhere. Yep, Justin Bieber.
I always wonder how much those interactions affected him. I don't have any children of my own, but I sure meet lots of kids who need dads. What words do you say? What actions stay with a boy longer than a night of roughhousing with a traveling artist?
In the spring of 2009 I walked into an art gallery in Austin to see some paintings that a friend of mine had put up. A crash into my leg, while I scarfed some hors d'oeuvres, broke the artistic vibe. A small boy with an adult motorcycle helmet making him wobble all over the place looked up at me.
"Woah there, buddy, what are you doing with that big helmet?" I asked as I knelt down to his level.
In a minute we were the best of friends. For hours that evening we raced like all boys should outside the art gallery. I knew his mom from the Austin Poetry Slam. I also knew that he had no steady dad. All the time we played, my brain desperately searched for meaningful words to plant into his memory. This is what I came up with...
“Sometimes, I can see the future.”
David's 4 ½ year old eyes forced open portals to an alternate universe, “Really??”
Yep, not all the time, but sometimes.”
“Wow!”... “Let's race!”
His little legs bounded off, begging me to follow; right past his mom, flying around the corner, kicking through muddy grass sullied with horse manure and gravel. I chased after him, 33 year-old heart injected with a time-warp elixir made of “everything's possible”.
“I'm gonna catch you. I'm gonna catch you...”
David pumped his fists, ducked his head and punched it into high gear. I inhaled the same joy of young boy treasure hunts, spring rain puddle stomping and winter snow football tackles as I sped up beside him, wanting to press my hand to that rusted pickup truck skin first and declare, “Victory!" But remembering that I was an adult trying to beat a 4 year-old. (I don't remember who won...) ((me!))
“My daddy has a pickup truck.”
“Really? Do you get to see him much?”
“Not much, but sometimes...”
His eyes fell to earth for a second before looking up to see this big, male jumping bean still smiling at him with more compassion than before. A flash of excitement erased the melancholy from his face.
“C'mon, let's race!”
He took off again back around the corner to where we started. This time I let him win.
“You beat me. Man, you're so fast!”
Unfazed, he took off again, 4 ½ year-old limbs wanting to extend this marathon of older male enjoyment as long as possible. We raced back and forth, faster than any racehorse could run, longer than the endurance of the sun. By the time the moon glanced a merciful eye down to our well-worn track, he saw little legs beginning to wobble...
“You're getting tired,” I yelled mischievously as I chased after his slower pace. When we got back to home base I asked, “Do you want to look at the art?” David grabbed my hand, and we trudged inside the Austin Figurative Gallery.
“She doesn't have any clothes on. She doesn't have any clothes on!” “How come SHE doesn't have any clothes on??!!”
Man, I just met this kid, and I'm not even in a relationship with his mom, and already I get to have "the talk" with him!
“People paint people without clothes sometimes... because... the human body's beautiful,” I said, noticing his mother nodding slowly with a wry smile a few yards away.
“Well... SHE doesn't have any clothes on. C'mon, let's race again!” and he bounded outside.
He still had a few more laps in him. I knew his mom would be happy at how easily he went to sleep. You can't beat a night of racing for a boy with no full-time dad. Life doesn't get much sweeter than innocent, boy-like fun for an unmarried man with no full-time son.
When David finally finished his racing, his flying through the night sky, I knelt down and looked into his happy tired eyes again...
“Remember how I told you that sometimes I can see the future?”
“Well, one day you're going to grow up to be a man, 'cause that's what little boys do. And you're going to be thankful for your mom and have a good relationship with her. And you're going to teach other boys how to be a man just like you.”
The silence of two seconds lasted like an eternity as a seed of hope took root in a child's vast universe. His mother stood still, enjoying the rare quiet of the rambunctious delight of her life.
“Can we race one more time, Peter?” he asked, conquering what was left of my heart.
I stepped through portals into another universe where children's requests can never be denied, and the heart of a father always finds time to plant seeds in the soil of growing boys.
“Sure,” I beamed. “Let's race!”
Study Questions / Scripture
1. What lessons come to mind when you read this story?
2. Can you imagine your reaction in each of these situations? What would or has Jesus said to you about it?
3. What attitude would be good to have the next time you interact with kids?
"Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these." After laying hands on them, he left. - Matthew 19:14,15 (The Message)
includes Sometimes I Can See The Future © Peter Nevland, 4-15-'09