My current project, Street Song, is a memoir—the story of my journey from a comfortable life in the suburbs in the Pacific Northwest to life as a homeless seeker on the streets of San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. At around age 19, I developed the idea that wisdom and love could only be found through a hard, direct experience of existence without any mediation or protection—no money, no job, no home, no friends. One wasn’t supposed to make plans, but to follow fate moment by moment. In spite of my conviction, I didn’t feel courageous enough to just go out and do it. It happened bit by bit, and that’s much of the story. Along the way I made discoveries that were life changing. Decades later, I’m still learning from the experience.
Around two years ago, after 13 years working on the manuscript, I handed it to my agent. But nothing came of it. No publisher took a bite. I haven’t been concerned about that. I take the spiritual view of existence. The book is, in fact, all about my journey to that view. In this particular case, the spiritual view means that it could not be published yet because it isn’t actually finished—although I didn’t realize that when I handed it to her. I was exhausted and glad to be done with it. If someone had told me it wasn’t really finished, I would have freaked out. I’d been pressed up against it so close, for so long that I couldn’t stand working on it anymore. It was the collection of songs accompanying the book that made me see it’s not finished. Originally, the songs were supposed to be a supplement, a way of bringing attention to the book. But as I worked on the recordings I discovered that they are not merely supplemental, but are actually integral to the book. I started thinking that the book isn’t finished until the songs are. Then I saw that the songs are saying something essential that should have been in the book, but I’d shied away from. It was there, but not to the degree that it should have been. So I’m currently making another pass through the manuscript. I don’t anticipate that it will take long to set things right.