The idea of wandering can be frightening and uncomfortable. We like to avoid things we cannot explain. Still, we find ourselves searching for something more as we move about this blue rock that is our home. We search for happiness, we search for direction, we search for meaning. And there is beauty in this searching. And there is fear in this searching. There is light, and there is darkness. Rather than focusing all of our energy on the light or the darkness alone, perhaps we can step back for a moment and look at this light and this darkness that is present within this wandering as a spectrum: One end- darkness, a wasteland and the other-light, a wonderland.
The name wonderland is often synonymous with amusement or pleasure, but this kind of wonderland isn’t bound by its traditional connotations. Wonderland in this sense is a state of mind manifested as a land where we wander, searching for direction and meaning. In this wandering there is uncertainty and even fear, but there is also incredible wonder and an adoration for the beauty that surrounds us. Ultimately, wonderland is a place you want to be.
Somewhere between this wasteland and this wonderland we find our daily lives, caught in a blend of light and dark, love and spite, triumph and tragedy. Everyday we experience a contrasting nature, a dissonance within ourselves. Whether we recognize this dissonance, it is there nonetheless, and there is a harmonious nature to this dissonance if we choose to embrace it. In the commotion of everyday life, however, it becomes easy to lose touch of this struggle as we pass through one mundane week to the next. Each day blurs into the next day until we don’t feel anything at all. Stale and bitter, we argue with each other to convince ourselves that we are important, that we have the answers.
And then the mundane is interrupted by tragedy or a question or uncertainty or a situation and the world becomes even darker than we remembered it. We question if there is a God governing this cold and random universe. If we decide there is one we shout at him to fix everything, but it doesn’t seem he is listening. Suddenly we find ourselves in a very dark and desolate place, longing for peace. Longing for answers.
It is often my experience that in these dark places I seek God more than ever. It is within my doubt and my uncertainty and darkness that light may shine through. After the waves of questions and anger, there is a holy silence. A listening. And though there are many questions left unanswered, it is in this silence that I am able to set my heart on something beyond myself.
There comes a time when each of us is lost in the darkness, in the wasteland, wandering for years or even just a moment, feeling alone and abandoned. However, this wasteland is not the constant. Even in the darkest of places, there is a hope that burns brighter than light from the Sun. Deep within the trenches of our fears and failures we may catch glimpses of this hope, this peace. It is a lifeline when we need it the most- when we are vulnerable and broken and longing for direction. Like an oasis in a desert. A kind of liberation. Then there may be a moment where everything stops as you recognize the fragile and temporary nature of life. There may be a revelation of how interconnected everything really is in ways that are beyond our understanding. There is a mysterious and subtle beauty that often goes unnoticed each day, but when we catch glimpses of it, we are awestruck and filled with wonder. That is wonderland.
So whether you find yourself caught in an endless cycle of mundane or whether you find yourself in a place you don’t understand or want to be in, whether you are afraid of the uncertainty that surrounds you or blissfully assume you will find what you’re looking for, take a deep breath. Embrace the beauty of this wandering. Recognize the complex nature of this spectrum in which we all find ourselves swirling about like wavelengths of light, neither completely dark and cold nor bright and vibrant by ourselves, but rather intricate beings molded in this cosmos searching for direction amidst the dark and light with the ability to both shine our light or stifle it.
Have you been to wonderland?
While we were getting the Stargirl concert together last year, I had an idea for a new album and dedicated this past year to making that idea a reality. Between school and my involvement in extracurricular activities and preparing classical pieces for college auditions, finding time to write the songs on this album was difficult but not impossible. In fact, you will see that much of the music on this new album is influenced in some way or another by the classical music I worked up for auditions. While I am proud of the work we did on Stargirl, the concepts and musicality on this project are definitely a departure from anything we have created before, and it is a good departure. This album, Wonderland, is an attempt at a concept album wrestling with the feelings of being lost and finding beauty in uncertainty and subtlety. It contains the most mature sounds that I think we have ever created.
If you have kept up with us on social media, you will know that over the summer we have been busy recording Wonderland, and we have had so much fun doing it. On top of that, we have also begun rehearsing for another concert at the Fair Theatre in Plainview, Texas on Friday, August 8th to kick off the new record which will be available to buy on iTunes, Bandcamp, and this website. I’m very excited to work with the musicians I’ve worked with before like Ryan Thurman, who has also played a huge role in the recording and mixing of the new album, Chris Styne, and Carley Hardage. I’m also looking forward to performing with our drummer this year from Lubbock, Texas, Alex Sanchez. Along with these musicians we will feature violinist, Sidnie Thomas, in a couple of songs. We would all love to see you come kick off the new album with us on August 8th, but before the album comes out on the 8th, the title track for Wonderland will be available for purchase as a single starting on July 25.
As you can see, we have been up to very much in this past year and are very excited to share with you our creations. Thank you to everyone who supports my music. It is because of you that all of this is possible.
To close, here is the track list for Wonderland:
If you are reading this then I welcome you to my new website designed by the good people at Airint.com. For the longest time, I’ve dreamed of having a site that I can promote my music and films and ideas on, and now it’s finally here. This is very exciting, and I can’t wait to create more things to share with you. You see, I ponder a lot about life and art and science and people, and I find that it is all very closely connected. From the complex codes encrypted into our DNA to the constant discovery of the muse within each of us, we are delicate and intricate beings living on this tiny ball of water and rock amidst the vastness of the universe. I highly encourage you to look at the sky at night, knowing that we are so small; it’s extremely humbling.
I find much inspiration in all of this, from the beauty of the world to the darkness of its corruption, and I find that there are countless stories within the grand story of everything. This is what I write about. Stories possess this unique quality because they are one of the few things that are both ancient and new – timeless. We all have stories, and many times those stories overlap and intertwine. Constantly the world experiences conflicts and resolutions, contractions and releases, triumphs and losses. What does your story say? What does my story say? What does this the story of everything say? I invite you to join me on my journey – my story – to discovering the mystery around us that is life, and I share with you my creations about it all.