When I look around me, it seems that nearly everyone feels as though they’re running out of time.
Our daily lives are ruled by it. Everyone is in some kind of a rush. Everyone is trying to get everything done before the day runs out. Tick tock, tick tock. we are bound by it, frustrated with it and often angry at it.
A year ago, in the golden light of the late afternoon, I pushed my grandmother along in her wheelchair. As she is in the last years of her life, her words are few, yet when she does speak, her words are profound. It was during that afternoon when she broke a comfortable silence, tilted her head toward the sky and said, “Isn’t time such a wonderful gift?”
Her words confused me. For as long as I could remember, time was something that I viewed negatively. It had always been a burden, a pressure, a limitation—it was something that I was always running out of, and something that I couldn’t grasp.
Yet there my grandmother was—someone who, at nearly 90 years old, didn’t necessarily have time on her side—calling time a precious gift. It startled me for a moment, but that moment passed as quickly as it came, and we continued on our walk in silence once again.
Something happened when my grandmother said those words that day. I didn’t know it then, but that one remark would stick with me for weeks and months to come. They continually came back to me like a mantra—isn’t time such a wonderful gift, isn’t time such a wonderful gift. What did she mean by that? What could I learn from her? Slowly, but inevitably, I witnessed her words begin to unravel the weighted tassels of time that I had continually allowed myself to be fettered by. Eventually, time changed its face.
Thus, my new album KALA was born. “Kala” is the Sanskrit word for ‘time’. In contrast to my own inherited understanding of time, many Eastern cultures of our world understand and treat time for its eternal nature. It is spoken of in its relationship to space and to growth. It fosters wisdom and understanding. It is the womb of all creation—from which we all came, and to which we will all return. It is cyclical, rather than linear. There is no beginning, and there is no end.
Because of my grandmother’s words, I found that, through song, I began to explore the notion of time differently. I endeavored to surrender myself more deeply to it—to let go of the pressure of it and embrace the stillness within it. That began a journey from which many songs were born. These songs, or explorations even, have been compiled into the album that is KALA.
KALA is a mirror of my journey with time and my process of surrendering to it. The journey was definitely one to remember.
After recording all the demos for the album on the island of Maui, we planned out our whole year of touring and traveling. First stop was the Byron Bay Bluesfest in Australia. Words can’t describe how excited I was to be on that lineup. However, the last day of our stay on Maui, I became seriously ill with a staph infection, hospitalized, and shorn of my locks. Australia got canceled and my world got rocked. I didn’t know what was up or down, left or right. Confused and saddened, I listened to the words of KALA and realized the joke was on me. My grandmother didn’t only give me the seed, she also gave me the medicine.
You can’t rush your healing. Everything happens for a reason.
These were my own lyrics. But what was the reason for my suffering? Why did all of this happen? I’m sure we all ask ourselves these same questions in times of hardship.
Before I got sick, my wife was about to leave for a trip to Nepal for a project up in the Himalayas. She canceled it when I was hospitalized. About two weeks later on the day she was scheduled to fly home to the United States, we got the news—earthquake.
My wife was scheduled to fly out of Kathmandu the day the earthquake hit.
A friend told me after that, “Every time you think of your sickness…you should get on your knees and kiss the ground.”
Enough said. Everything—all the bad, all the good and everything in between—it’s all happening in perfect time. We may not always see the perfection, especially in the midst of our daily chaos, but when we look back we can see…there is a spirit of time that is working everything out perfectly. We can’t rush it. We can’t hold it back. We can only surrender to it as it unfolds.
KALA is about time the healer, time the teacher, time the friend. My hope and prayer is that these songs and stories help inspire us to look at this journey of life in all its vastness rather than its limitations.
We’re not running out.
We’re really running in.
My grandmother gave me the seed.
I give back to her the fruit.
I love you Maw Maw.
Bonus listen from KALA: “Indigo” is a song about my journey to finding my owl medicine. Owl medicine means that one can never be fooled. In time, I learned that my owl medicine was remembering to not be fooled by my own mind, and continuing to ask myself, “Who am I?”, in the deepest sense of that question.
Pre-order KALA today. Get instant downloads of the single “Back To You”, along with “To Zion”, “Forgive” & “You Can’t Rush Your Healing” with your pre-order of the new album on iTunes: ΚΛLΛ [digital standard] or ΚΛLΛ [Deluxe Edition].
Author: Trevor Hall
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photos: Trevor Hall