South Las Vegas Boulevard in mid-May is blindingly bright and has far more traffic than I’d expect on a weekday afternoon. As I maneuver my red Yaris among the taxis, Ubers, and much fancier rentals than my own, I’m mystified why there are so many people out on the Strip midday on a Thursday.
It’s so hot, for one thing. And it hurts my eyes. The relentless sunshine bounces off everything—buildings, windshields, concrete. But worse than the glare is the sheer amount of stimulus: the faux Eiffel Tower and fountains and a gazillion stores and huge billboards of famous faces and flashing signs and club music pouring out onto the sidewalks and hawkers handing out coupons and women teetering by in heels not made for walking with guys carrying cocktails-to-go and groups of tourists posing for photos. I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes on the road and realize too late that I’m in the wrong lane. I floor it to move over, and zoom through the light before it changes, throwing a feeble, “I’m sorry! I don’t know where I’m going!” wave to anyone I may have pissed off. I can feel my nerves crackle and my palms begin to sweat.
Ironically it’s mindfulness that brings me here. I’ve come to meet Jewel, the singer-songwriter whose 2016 memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story shared with the world the many mindful practices she developed as a teenager to help deal with the anxiety, fear, and insecurity she struggled with since childhood. These practices remain an essential part of her life today. Now she wants to teach others that they, too, can change their experience of life, no matter where they start from, and find their own happiness.
Although it’s been more than 20 years and 11 albums since her debut record, Pieces of You, to many Jewel is still best known as the soulful singer-songwriter with an impressive range (she yodels, no less) from Alaska, discovered at age 19 playing in a San Diego coffeehouse while living out of her car. But as the book title hints, there’s much more to this story.
And this unlikely clickbait town is the surprising base for an ambitious slate of programs and projects with Jewel’s mindful philosophy at their core. I’m eager to learn more.