Song #1 of the 2020101 project: “Precipice”

Hello from day 1 of 2020101: an interactive album project, consisting of 11 original songs, about our collective experiences of the year 2020, released 1 song at a time, every 10 days, for 101 days, beginning … TODAY.

The first song is out now! It’s called “Precipice.”

  • Click here to stream or download it, exclusively on Bandcamp.
  • Read below about the inspiration for the song that emerged from our community’s shared experiences of 2020.
  • Also: we want you to help us continue to co-create this living project with us, by sharing your stories that relate to the theme of “Precipice.” Find info about how to get involved below.

disruption → perspective →
danger → catalyst → evolution

The first of the themes that emerged from our story collection — which seemed to serve as an apt introduction to this project and a scene-setting for the other themes to follow — was of people coming to grips with what the idea of “normal” meant in 2020.

People shared about …

their experience of the world coming to a stop,
their lives and busy schedules slowing way down,
being overwhelmed by the new pressures of school- and work-from-home,
routines being disrupted,
plans being upended,
and how what had been normal before was nowhere to be found in 2020.

When would normal return?
Or would that normal ever return?
And did we even want it to? …

… because we also heard in people’s stories how in that disruption — in that slowed-down state, being forced off of their routines — people had an opportunity to evaluate the previous pace and patterns of their lives.

Had those patterns
accurately reflected what’s important to us?

Was that pace
actually getting us
to where we want to go in our lives?

Had the old normal really been serving us?

Sure, there were parts of normal that they missed: the coffee dates with friends, the gathering to cheer on their kids’ soccer games, the movie theater outings, the traveling to see family.

But once they stepped off that treadmill, and looked at the world from a stiller place — a stance that, because they weren’t moving a hundred miles a minute, no longer blurred the sharp edges of the world around them — it became apparent to a lot of people that our world can be a frightening and dangerous place.

Specifically, in 2020:

A novel virus which was a potential threat
to literally every human on earth.

Economic hardship
like some had never faced before.

A dawning realization that for many,
that level of precariousness of existence
is what had always defined normal.

Sometimes we don’t realize the mire we’re in
until we stand still for a minute.

Sometimes we don’t see other people’s pain
until we’ve come to understand it for ourselves.

Sometimes it takes a major disruption of normal
to help us see the ways in which normal
could be a lot better than it’s been.

Sometimes it requires us getting off the dizzying merry-go-round to see that

life has always been
just this fragile,

and every bit as precarious as we experienced in 2020. It’s just that we’ve developed some pretty sophisticated ways to avoid feeling the vulnerability of that ever-present reality. Comfort can be blinding.

As I think about that,
I’m coming to an understanding that this reality …

… places us squarely in line
with the magnificent history
of the evolution of life itself.

Here’s what I mean:

Every time life has reached forward
to evolve into something new,

it has done so as a response
to being thrust into a disruption of the status quo,

into a position
of potentially grave danger,

where the breathtaking improbability
and impossible beauty of life itself
comes into stark relief,

and compels it …
… to change
… to stay alive
… to keep reaching forward

… to create a new existence.

We’re on the precipice. Do you feel it?

Is it terrifying? Yes.
Is it thrilling? Also yes.
Because with eyes toward what’s possible,
arms and hearts open wide to one another,
this is how we’ll survive.

It’s how we always have survived.

If you have a story to share about how your ‘normal’ was disrupted over this last year, or how you reevaluated what normal means to you, please email it to me at; we are continuing to collect and share people’s stories of 2020 throughout this project.

Remember how “Precipice” didn’t exist yet when I last wrote to you, one week ago? In the time since then, I wrote, Jamie and I produced and recorded, and he mixed and mastered it to be ready for today’s launch.

And the adventure has only just begun! I’ll begin working on Song #2 tomorrow, and we’ll be releasing it 10 days from now, on Friday, February 26th. So, mark your calendars; you’ll be hearing from us again soon.

As always, thank you for being in this with us. And extra special thanks to our Misfit Stars Community, whose ongoing support of the work we do is what is making this project possible.

Love and reaching forward — shannon