For Those Still Standing: Episode 13
Contributed by ben_conoley, Posted by Suburban Home

We're happy to bring you the 13th column from Mike Hale. Mike just packed up all his belongings and headed out on the road with no plans to return.

It’s been a little over four months since my first column was posted, about 100 shows in more than a dozen different countries. The days pass faster now than ever before. It seems like just last week I was back in Gainesville getting ready to leave for tour with Ninja Gun.

I’ve just returned to California after a six- week tour of Europe with Austin Lucas. What a ride!

We played shows in what was known as the Eastern Block. I saw Stonehenge and hung out with Frankie Stubbs in Sunderland and watched as we drifted away from the white cliffs of Dover. I saw castles that were built as long ago as 2000 years, one in particular that was built by the Romans. Played a show in a German bomb shelter built in WWII to protect locals from the Allied forces. Buildings, cathedrals whose histories reach back hundreds of years before anyone knew North America even existed. Roads and alleyways older than America itself. Countless memories I will hold onto forever!

I really wish there was some way to explain the way I'm feeling about the whole experience, but I’m lost for the words to put it into a real perspective. What I mean is, how do you explain to the world that after 34 years I finally feel like I’ve managed to learn something about myself, the world I live in, and mostly about the kind of man I want to be? Did it take a trip across the ocean to see this? Or maybe the anxiety of knowing I don't have a real job anymore? I don't know, but one thing I'm quite sure of is that I'll never be the same again.

At least once a week I had to take Austin aside and ask him to explain something to me. Whether it was something of a political view, lifestyle, what is or isn't PC and why, what’s socialism really supposed to mean, what's capitalism? What kind of currency is this again? A continuous change around me from county to country and never enough time to really understand anything. And the continuously reoccurring thought: "man… I'm way out of my element!"

The things that I've seen and the people that I’ve met on my first trip to Europe have changed my life forever. In Denmark we played a squat where the inhabitants were responsible for the largest riot in their country’s history. When the local government tried to kick them out of their house punks from all over Europe came to protest and fight to help them. A woman who befriended me recently married a man so that he could get citizenship into another country other than his own. Why? Because he was openly gay and had become a hunted target in his own country. People were trying to kill him so she came to his rescue… This may have been my biggest issue/realization, that the people I was meeting were people who really had to fight for what they believe in. So many of us consider ourselves to be the same type of person, but what I was realizing was that here were people who had been faced with real problems and were actually doing something about it. And I've never been one to do that. It’s not that I wouldn't I guess, I’ve just never been faced with something so… so real. And now for the first time I'm seeing it happen, and I’m realizing that I want to have that same sort of passion to fight for what I know is right. I want to be the kind of man that encourages people to take to the streets and by whatever means let your voice be heard. To not just live with no regrets… but to live with true intention. For Those Still Standing:

If you want to reach Mike, you can do so by emailing mikehalemusic (at) gmail (dot) com.