Song Stories From the Edge: Track 2 – Character

While living in Boston, my good friend had started a new job that was well over his head and well overwhelming of his normal way of life. As we sauntered and smoked along the harbor impersonating regular New Englanders, he busted through the conversation with a startling realization: “I think at the core I am interested in my own comfort and God is interested in my character.” The comment pierced me in the kind of way that hurts so good.

The next day I was hanging with another friend, and we were discussing Rob Bell’s recently released book Love Wins, which at the time was providing room for controversial and competing opinions on eternity among all kinds of people. It got us talking about the nature of resurrection and where we’ve misinterpreted the ideas and priorities of Jesus. What would life look like if we stopped concentrating all our efforts on “everyone’s approval of us” and instead looked to be creators of a culture that is anchored in an eternal perspective? The answer: probably something good.

The Boys of Boston

The Boys of Boston

The next evening I sat on the back porch of our Everett Street apartment to get some of these thoughts down on paper. As I thought about doing so, I got intimidated at having to fit them into cohesive narrative. So I left the ideas in their vaguely conclusive state and began tying them together with some loose rhymes instead. This is the art of much of good art, I suppose.

Character – the kind that I imagine endures in the resurrected scope – is not something you can force. It has to be developed, maybe even earned, most often by persevering through the most challenging of circumstances. In the end, I would say it looks a lot like an oak tree that stands tall and serves all the leaves that adorn it. The heat and the drought don’t throw it off, and it never ceases to bear fruit, whatever the season.

“I want in on some of that.”

Song Stories From the Edge: Track 1 – Summer Dreaming

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Lincoln enters into the joyous legacy of the “endless front yard” at the Chud homestead.

It was the summer of 2003, and the first full year that I had spent away from my Alaskan homeland. I was in England for the three months, and as much as I was enjoying the old country’s rolling hills, I was missing the more dynamic Talkeetna mountain range near the point of tears. I did a lot of daydreaming that summer, picturing myself running through my “endless front yard” and across a ridgeline in Hatcher’s Pass in order to maintain my sanity. Most people call it “homesickness,” but for me, it’s more like “childhood-sickness.”

This song was my self-therapeutic attempt to articulate the tension involved in leaving home and all that it represents. I always knew I was nostalgic, but as I wrote this tune across that summer, I realized just how core that fact was to the way I see the world. I’ve never been good at growing up. I feel a lot like every day of adulthood is simply pretending to have a clue of what I’m doing (and most of the time I fail at effectively convincing anyone that I do). I am all the more aware of this as I watch my son listen to this song. Fittingly, it has been our cure to his temper tantrums while riding in the car since the day he was born. When the tears are uncontrollable, for some reason this tune is the quick fix.

The final verse of “Summer Dreaming” has been a resolve I’ve returned to many times along the journey, and it rings as true today as it did 12 years ago when it was first penned. I’ve gotten comfortable existing in the in between over the years, and increasingly confident that the good Lord is comfortable – maybe even appreciative – of that part of me as well:

I was only dreaming,
But I’m ready to do some of that with my eyes wide open
Here’s hoping
Cos the present is a gift that I’m ready to open too
I’ve gotta find the line that lets me be
some kind of grown up and still a kid
Cos I know the good Lord smiles as I love what I’m doing now,
And I long for what I once did

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Hatcher Pass Sunset (courtesy of Cecil Sanders Photography)

On The Edge of the In Between: Song Stories

A week ago I drove home from the States (as we Alaskans call “the others”). It was the first time I made the 2500-mile trek alone, and it provided some much-needed introvert time after a summer of people. Wonderful memories, wonderful places, and wonderful people, but people nonetheless.

As I passed through Beaver Creek (the last “town” in Canada) and approached the Alaskan border, I had a flashback to two summers previous when I was driving up with my childhood friend, Casey. He had joined me for the Seattle-Palmer, AK portion of the move I was making from Boston. We called ourselves “two hobbits on an open road,” and we were in fine form, embracing our delirium after 30 hours on the highway by singing old songs with the accompaniment of a travel guitar my mom gave me in high school.

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Here’s Casey and I rocking the road trip to Alaska in July 2013.

Eventually I started sharing with Casey some new songs I had written, and we began discussing the possibility of an album made of these tunes. Little did I know a year later I would be holding that project, On the Edge of the In Between, in my hands. (Although if you want to get technical, it was in post-production at the year mark.) Which brings me back to my drive last week and that same point on the road where Casey and I had been talking over this dream.

I thought about how quickly I lose sight of the amazing fulfillment of a dream once it is indeed fulfilled. I forget the pain and the vulnerability and the waiting that preceded the actualization of that desire, and I’m onto “bigger and better” things. Marisa, Lincoln (our son), and I are currently making final preparations for a move to Beirut, Lebanon, a dream that has been in the works for over a decade. I wonder how long we will be settled into our new life there before I forget how long we ached for it to happen.

My thought via the road last week: I want to do a better job of remembering. Of not rushing past the breakthrough and onto the next thing, but of actually sucking the marrow out of life (Thoreau-style), starting with the places where longings have already been fulfilled. So for the next two weeks, I’ll be breaking down the songs from that album, now almost a year old. Maybe you’ll enjoy hearing my take on a song you particularly like. Maybe you’ll add my thoughts to your own and it will keep the creative process multiplying, which would be grand. Most likely I will be writing, like most blogs, for my mom and myself (although my mom might have a difficult time navigating to this page on a daily basis (love you mom), leaving me to reflect in solitude on my own words). Whatever the case, I figure I will gain a few pounds of philosophical weight in the process, which is reason enough for my to do some remembering.

So here they come: song stories from the edge.

I mean, they’re coming tomorrow and so on…

Right after I show you this video I took on the road last week in between my incredibly pensive moods.

 

It's here!

Almost 7 months beyond schedule and a whole lot of patience on your part… I have a box of new albums in hand here at my casa in Palmer. Yesterday I went for a drive up the Old Glenn Highway and let “The Edge Of The In Between” soundtrack the journey (while also verifying there was music on the CD).

If you are late to the game and didn’t pre-order an album via Kickstarter, there are still ways to get your hands on one. I will be playing a few shows around the Palmer area here in Alaska, and CDs will be available for purchase at any of those locations. You can also email me in order to make arrangements via paypal. Otherwise, the digital version will soon be available in all usual online locations.

Thanks for your patience, interest, and support. Hope you dig the tunes!

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Some Advice for (the soon to be) Dad


Alright baby, if all goes as planned, you will be here in 4 days. You will very well be sitting here in this house with us in a week’s time. The weather peoples tell us that your birthday will likely be a rainy morning, which is good for south-central Alaska right now, currently sitting under a dismal blanket of smoke. It’s incredibly difficult to wrap my head around the idea that you will soon be… here.

I have done plenty of evaluation trying to grasp this reality, and I have sought out plenty of advice, but I think it’s time to just face myself for a moment. I want to speak to the Dad me before I “officially” become a dad. I know I am about to be overjoyed and overwhelmed by your entrance to the world, and I’m ready to be humbled. That said, I know there is perspective I have right now that I will be clamoring for a year from now, for better and for worse. I want to offer myself some advice from my naïve, yet wonderfully optimistic current viewpoint.  Remember Chud, this is who you want to be as a dad.

Let’s see if I can make this into a list of sorts, since that’s what the internet does these days for people who pretend to write and read (people like myself).

1. Keep pushing for adventure. 

I know you’re tired and you have legitimate excuses for why you don’t want to go climb Pioneer Peak this weekend. You’re impressed with yourself for walking to Fred Meyer for diapers rather than driving. Stop with the justifications and take your baby with you. You are creating norms for that small human that will stick with your family forever. You will have a family culture regardless of what you do, but remember that you have the choice to create the kind of culture you want. Don’t be a recipient or a bystander of culture; build it. Strap that baby to your chest, fill your Camelbak with milk (but probably not), and hit the trails… or make a new one. Don’t let your baby be an excuse for your non-adventure. Let him/her be the empowering of the adventure.

IMG_56662. Acknowledge that your wife is a legend.

You will share in the responsibility of this new life as best you can, and in various seasons you will probably even carry a heavier load. However, you will have never carried the actual baby in your own body, or had it demand food of that same body on beck and call. There are going to be a lot of days, especially early on, when your wife may be upset with you simply because you don’t have milking capabilities. Just bite your tongue, nod your head, and apologize for being boobless. There are a lot of other things you can do to let her know that you recognize she’s doing the vast majority of the work. Do them.

3. Never offer advice to new parents as if their experience will be exactly like yours.

You are probably going to learn some helpful things you can only gain by experience, and certainly some lessons that new moms and dads can glean from. However, this whole reproduction thing has been going on for some time, and there is yet to be a single human being that emerges exactly like another. Any time you offer advice, make sure you do it with the caveat: “…but that was our experience, and yours may be entirely different, so don’t take that as the only way.” And by the way, show other parents around you the same courtesy by not shaking your head when you see them doing something you disagree with. You think you’re impressive because you managed to successfully have one baby? Come on now, give others the same grace you will most definitely need yourself. Be proud of your child, but be humbled by your fatherhood.

4. Breathe in the absolute, unparalleled, fathomless miracle that is this child.

It will be easy to forget the way you wondered over that clichéd digital picture of the size of the fetus growing throughout the past 9 months. When you’re exhausted and unable to form cohesive sentences, stare at your baby for a minute and remember the fact that he/she emerged out of nothingness into living, breathing, gurgling being. Try your hardest to wrap your head around that fact, accept again that you never will, then go on with your day. You should probably practice this exercise often.

IMG_56025. Buck up and see the big picture.

Don’t feel like you need to get everything perfect; if your child knows he/she is loved, you have done well. Life has dramatically changed, eh? Well, it’s going to dramatically change again… once another baby comes. Or once your current baby can tie his shoes on his own. Or you’re sitting at the hospital in shock that your child is still in one piece. Or she slams her door because you told her she couldn’t go out. Or once he’s leaving home and you cry and he smiles while waving goodbye. Or when she falls in love with someone you suspect she cares about more than you. Or once he hands you your first grandchild and your life flashes before you. The place you’re in right now is just that… now. Embrace it for what it is and don’t force something that just isn’t going to be. There are certain aspects of life that are just going to be different, and while you should most definitely push for the life abundant (see point #1), you should also recognize that life is most abundant when the present collides in your heart’s understanding of the past and the future.

The (Chud) Best of 2013

Marisa and I have held to a few traditions every year – one of which is to make our own mix of the songs that have meant the most to us over the previous 365 days.  That usually means a mix of the old and the new as we discover and REdiscover some of the tunes that soundtrack our coming and going… some of them more meaningfully than others.  Here is the 12th such album and the songs that will forevermore take us back to 2013.  Would love to hear yours!

SONG

ARTIST

ALBUM

Not With Haste

Mumford & Sons

Babel

Next to Me

Emeli Sandé

Our Version of Events 

Mirrors (Short)

Justin Timberlake

Nathan Chud’s Album

Time to Run

Lord Huron

 

The Age of Worry

John Mayer

Born and Raised

Keep Your Heart Young

Brandi Carlile

Bear Creek

Teach Me To Know

The Lone Bellow

The Lone Bellow

Pompeii

Bastille

Bad Blood

Always Gold

Radical Face

 

(Bless the Lord)

Matt Redman

10,000 Reasons

Better Love

Green River Ord.

Chasing Down the Wind

I Have Made Mistakes

The Oh Hellos

the Deep, Dark Valley

Royals

Lorde

The Love Club – EP

Roar

Katy Perry

PRISM (Deluxe)

Track 05

Loud Harp

Loud Harp

Souvenirs

Switchfoot

Vice Verses

Eastern Ocean

Chud’s iPhone

Voice Memos

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Hillsong United  

 

Kickstart It

I have a wide collection of songs I have shared in many a living room, back porch, or campfire setting, and looking back over them I realize there is a common theme of being “in between”… In between life & death, longing & fulfillment, child & adulthood, etc.  I feel like everyone shares this sentiment in one way or another, and I think these songs will help articulate those feelings in such a way that people can effectively sigh no matter the season in which they currently find themselves.

… but I need your help to make it happen.  Cruise over to KICKSTARTER to find out how.