finding the horizon on a crooked stage

January 31, 2017 — Tim Foreman

Yesterday we had a day off in Santa Cruz, and I took a short drive into the hills to a place known as the Mystery Spot.  If you’ve ever spent any time in California, chances are you’ve seen a few yellow bumper stickers advertising this legendary hillside where up is down, down is sideways, and nothing is quite as it should be.  Confused yet?  Good, I think that’s the point.  The basic setup is this: a very slanted old shack balanced into the side of a very steep hill surrounded by hundreds of tall, slanted trees, with no view of the horizon, or anything else that could possibly inform you of what is truly horizontal.  The effects are dizzying.  Many people (including some of those with me) end up feeling nauseous.  It feels like gravity has doubled in intensity and is trying pull you in weird directions.  People appear to shrink or grow, water runs uphill, and your brain is doing backflips.

Because tour life is a lot like the Mystery Spot. Between the stage, interviews, and social media, it’s easy to get lost amidst the distortion.

Well, that’s a little like tour sometimes.  A different city every day.  Some things are the same, others completely different.  Besides the humorous  challenges of remembering what city you’re in —  “Where am I?!” — there’s the more subtle disorientation that we all face everyday, only amplified: “Who am I?” Because tour life is a lot like the Mystery Spot. Between the stage, interviews, and social media, it’s easy to get lost amidst the distortion.  Even after nearly twenty years of touring, it still feels like fighting gravity.  And many times I feels like gravity wins, and the water is no longer running downhill like I thought it should be.

Of course this feeling isn’t unique to touring.  Touring just has the ability to exaggerate this struggle for orientation that we all face every single day. The problem in all of these scenarios is that we need the horizon.  Something outside of ourselves that can tell us, without question, which way is up and which way is down.  Of course we need each other too.  But without a horizon, even the guidance of other people can be dangerous. Like a sloping shack on a slanted hill, we are all bent, tilted, fighting the gravitational distortion that surrounds us.  At the start of a new tour, and the beginning of a new year, I’m highly aware of my need for the horizon.  Daily.  I need constant course corrections or I’ll find myself standing at an angle without even realizing it.  I’m by no means an expert in this stuff, but I know that for me there are certain constants that point me towards the horizon: prayer, scripture, nature, caring for others, art that is beautiful and true, and the wisdom of others who have proven themselves as dependable guides.  I’m also aware of the things that spin me around: the opinions of others, social media, fear, doubt, self-reliance, pride.  The most noticeable difference to me between these two groups is this: the first group is all outward-focused, while the second group is focused entirely on myself.  When I’m focused inwardly on myself, I ALWAYS lose the plot.  People often ask us how they can pray for us.  Well here’s one: my prayer for this year is to spend more time staring at the true horizon Himself, and less time worrying about me. – Tim

People often ask us how they can pray for us.  Well here’s one: my prayer for this year is to spend more time staring at the true horizon Himself, and less time worrying about me.

Categories: Tour

  • pamela joseph

    I often waste time worrying about myself as well. Most of the time it’s worrying about what other people think about me. It’s especially hard for me because I attend a public high school where comparing myself to other girls has become an unwanted ritual for me. My prayer this year is asking God to give me the grace to know that I am beautiful and in Him I am complete. I need to spend more time recognizing how all of us are beautiful and less time falling for the evil one’s lies.

  • Jordan Calton

    Thank you for sharing, Tim.

  • Laura Tennant

    Loved your reflections and the imagery of the Mystery Spot. So easy to go off course in this world and to forget the God who restores and rights our souls. I truly needed to hear this today. Thank you!

  • Ingrid Samson

    Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing, Tim. My prayers are with you and the band. This is also a timely prayer for the rest of the world. We all need that perspective, now more than ever. Thanks again, and God bless. 🙂

  • Helen

    Definitely praying! Touring sounds so full on; we really appreciate that you do this for us, especially when you come overseas. You guys work so hard!
    Ps – pretty sure there’s a Mystery Spot in MI too 🙂

  • Emily

    Loved it, Tim. I’ll be praying 🙂

  • Tori Rose

    This reminds me so much of my favourite poem by Gwyneth Lewis called Prayer for the Horizon. Maybe it’ll encourage you too Tim!

    I wish you, first, an unimpeded view
    with a boundary in it, between seen and unseen,
    a line to hold onto when you’re feeling sick,
    something to aim for but which retreats
    as fast as you travel. May you stay undeceived
    and see, not a line, but a curve of the earth:
    an elegant offing that leads beyond fear
    out to Vasco’s discoveries. It’s three:
    visible, sensible, rational – lines
    for what we may calculate and what we can’t.

    In fog, I wish you mercury sight,
    artificial horizon, so that you know
    where not to be, quickly. I wish you the gift
    of knowing where your own knowing ends.

    And finally, I ask: when you reach
    the event horizon from which your light
    will no longer reach us and space, highly curved,
    will hide you for ever, that you watch me arrive –
    you shouldn’t see me, but you will –
    marching with flashing lighthouses, buoys,
    to the edge of your singularity
    with fleets of full-rigged ceremonial ships
    and acres of scintillating sea.

  • Ron Dunbar

    for tim and all the guys in the band and on the RK tour. FANTASTIC show in Maine last night(feb 11). we don’t know each other by name but certainly by looks after the past many years working the stage in the festival world. the band continues to amaze me NOT just because of the musicianship, but moreso the consistency of giving glory to God in the performance just by being real with the audience. i pray for you as well as all involved in the contemporary Christian music “world” that above anything else, that Christ would be evident in the music traveling mercies!,


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