With exactly one week before I board a plane to Denver for my six month tour with Up With People, I am overwhelmed by thoughts of preparation. My tour guitar is in three pieces. I have four lists of things to do and to buy. There are college requirements out there somewhere that I must ready myself for. My hands have no clue how good I wish they played the guitar. And, the ball and chain of my 20-year-old mind during the summer is a heavy burden of distraction.
I think that I have spent too much time worrying about needless elements of anxiety. When I think of leaving home for six months, the only images I see in my mind are those of leaving and returning. I must always remind myself that I believe my purpose in life is to entertain and bring others together. Whenever I fear the thought of leaving home, I always hear my mind saying, "Well, Russ, all you want out of life is something crazy, why not begin the story?" Someone asked me the other day, "So dude, Russ, what are you going to do if you get trapped in the Philippines and no one knows how to get you home." I said to them, "I would take pictures of everything and tell my friends back home that it was part of my reason for being alive. I would establish Wal-Marts in small villages and make sure that every child knew the taste of Taco Bell."
As of today, I am mentally prepared to leave because I have remembered the true meaning of my Up With People participation. I have personally been shown the power that music creates within the motivation of a person. It is the one language that is truly timeless and has the power to bridge all barriers of age, gender, and ethnic background. I plan to leave home and share my love for the power of music with others and bring them together through compassion.