At one point or another, someone in your life probably told you to imagine your happy place. Think of it now: where are you? What do you hear? What do you see? What are you doing?
I’m at the Lake, on Antelope Island, facing west.
I hear my sister singing, and Dad’s on the guitar.
There’s a quality of light on the people watching us that can only be produced by a sunset reflecting off distant, shrinking salt water.
I’m harmonizing with my sister’s angelic voice, looking at my Mom and my Sarah and my friends and perfect strangers. For a moment, a few of them close their eyes and let the harmony wash over them. The music and the sunset compete for attention, and at times, they both win.
This is my happy place.
So many of the songs that I’ve written over the years are about this moment: desert, water, sunset, love, family. Last Saturday, I had a chance to bring them all together, and as I sang I was amazed at how many of the lyrics subtly reflected my identity as a girl of the Great Basin – they seemed meant for that moment. A few examples:
From Love Song to the Desert:
“I am afraid (this flood across the desert), all this rain (this storm across the range), will wash away (this water in the dust), all that’s sane….I am alone (this flood across the desert), the wind blows (this storm across the range), now I know (this water in the dust), now I know.”
From My Water:
“If you thirst, then first, let me sate you. We can flow, so slow, into the blue…darling partake of my water.”
“You know she can’t be your summer rain, come to me and see your thirst will wane…you’re a flood, my love, refill my soul.”
From The Bridge:
“Well the chill came off the water, but your soul protects my skin. And we walked across the bridge, watched the sea swallow the sun.”
Even the songs we cover tend to be steeped in these things.
From Safe & Sound (The Civil Wars with Taylor Swift):
“Just close your eyes, The sun is going down. You’ll be alright, No one can hurt you now. Come morning light, You and I’ll be safe and sound”
I know the magnitude to which place becomes an intrinsic part of who we are: engraved on our very souls in ways we cannot even comprehend. It enters through eyes, ears, breath, and fingertips, and reveals itself in poetry, song, brush, photo, and word. Most of us don’t even realize it’s there.
This desert is my soul. The sunset light on blooming yellow sagebrush, splashing silhouettes up to their ankles in brine, whispy sliver clouds above shades of brown, blue, and ecru. Many people shun the Great Basin and its terminal lakes, claiming they are places of unending tedium with no possibility of a feast for the hungry eye. I think they must be blind. Or else, in metaphor, I think they are people who would never understand the subtleties inherent in my soul.