I turn off my podcast, my push towards intelligence, my endeavor to rank among the masses of intellectual heroes, listening to the wise speak to the perceived wise on matters finite minds can’t quite envelop. Breaking into the space between two noises are the classical overtones of Shane Barnard’s acoustic guitar, a song called The Answer. The windows are down, the wind blows my freshly snipped hairs to tickle the corners of my lip. Though chilly, I brush my face clear and leave open the gateway to the highway speeding past so I don’t drown myself in my own voice as I sing along.
I remember the DVD that comes with this particular Shane and Shane CD. It’s a live recording of the pair doing an intimate evening show. The lights are low but the acoustics are just right. Watching on our shared 24 inch color TV from a borrowed vintage loveseat, I learned every word to each song on the disc I borrowed from a boy I knew. He once told me the performance was among his favorites, and I watched it over and over and over again.
I’ve told folks twice in the past couple weeks that I have a friend living in Africa, claiming it, owning it, like it’s mine to have at all. He wrote on his blog the other day of a fire near his home. I gasped, held my breath as I scrolled the internet page, fearing the destruction or death that seemed inevitable. He was fine, his camera and his things emerged unscathed, his beard was charred which was more funny than catastrophic. I wondered of my worry, or my worry wondered me. And then there I was thinking about Africa again when this song came on.
I have no business with Africa. Before he posted a map with an obnoxious yellow arrow pointing at the eastern crevice of the country where Tanzania was wedged, I had no idea where he’d disappeared to from my favorite mitten-shaped state in the Midwest. Years ago, I was the one who crept awkwardly towards the car to avoid the pressing questions about relationships and dating while he kicked the slush with the toe of his shoe, nervously searching for words that I’d accept. I never did, and now while I remain he presses on in pursuit of something greater and my heart beats out of time for Africa, to a Shane and Shane song he loves, called The Answer.