Devotion in Troy, Ohio

“I love my God…”Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, jazzing and jumping around on stage last night in Troy, Ohio, the headliner of the first day of this Gentlemen of the Road Stopover concert festival. (Watch the song here. Lyrics here. ) 

The night was humid and cooling, full dark and a few stars, as the lights from this huge festival illuminated the night and cast shadows over the murky river. We sat on the bleachers behind an older couple, their teenage son between them; the wife mouthed the words and bopped to the beat. “We have choir practice on Monday,” she reminded her husband, who nodded in the way that husbands do.

I’d never heard of this band and if you know me at all, you can imagine that I was reluctant to even go to the festival last night – uncharted territory, after driving for 3+ hours, and arriving to the Dayton Grand Hotel, which is anything but grand.

Until I know my surroundings, I remain hesitant. My husband knows me and so we struck a deal: we go and hear the band he wanted to hear, but we leave when I say.

Well, in a nutshell, they rocked. Love this band now. And the open air madness of a festival of 35,000 or more, milling about in the midst of inspiration and music and food and just being on a summer night in a small Midwestern town as a band of at least a dozen belted out lyrics praising God.

Hell yeah.

We are in such a new era these days. Call it the Aquarian Age or something else, but we are living in times where we wear our spirituality on our sleeve with pride.

It’s ok to jump around a stage of a mainstream concert and praise God. Not only is it ok, it’s welcome.

This is what I’ve been talking about! We all believe in something – why not share in the reverie of that assurance, knowing that we’re all inspired, even if it’s in slightly different ways? Let’s admire one another’s devotion, let’s share it, not fear it.

A generation ago, you blended in. Forget any odd observances or different beliefs; just make sure you fit in and seem white-bread vanilla American.

Not anymore – thank GOD. Being different is part of the fabric of being American.

We celebrate it. Dance around it. Sing about it. Build businesses on the premise of being different. Doing things different is now a hallmark to be celebrated. It’s what attracts people to you, what inspires transactions.

Don’t hide your beliefs in a corner. No need to keep them at home, tuck them away out of sight. Hell, why not look for the similar words we all use to convey our awe of this damn life? There is beauty everywhere and we all try to put a name to it, describe it, immerse in it.

We are all the same. Repeat that: we are all the same.

This music we’re spending a weekend in: it’s about that. The ways in which we find meaning. That’s the purpose of our lives, what drives us to try new things. Let’s look for the meaningful. And today, it’s not hiding under a rock.

Today, we woke in the hotel room and found breakfast at Butter Cafe, near the University of Dayton. There’s a southern appeal to this town, and I’m trying to figure out what its charm is. Victorian homes in a row near the university; empty lots so much like my Detroit in the downtown.

A lady of the night stopped two cop cars last night after dinner at Olive, an Urban Dive. The waitress reminded me of my friend Reetu, in her perpetual smile and happy voice. She hugged me when I asked for more parmesan cheese. It was shaved fresh from the block. We sat in the garden, sipping lemonade and iced tea, and noticing the chives, cilantro, mint, rosemary and tomatoes, growing in the cracks beside the concrete.

It’s amazing how much you can get done when you just find the space. A night of music sung toward the star-lit sky. A morning of sweet late-summer heat and gentrified urban hangouts teaching us the meaning of charm.

Ready for the tunes and the lyrics of the afternoon, and an evening of power among ordinary men and women, praising what they value, sharing that with people who appreciate the power of meaning.

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