Thursday, October 15, 2009

Even Now

I am a recovering musician. I was addicted from age nine. I suffered all the highs and lows of any addict. I have learned to manage my cravings, but every so often I wander into an alley to find my old cronies. We bend the boot, hit the bag, and for a while we live in a set list thinking of nothing more than the next song. The place where minutes become hours, the groove is oxygen and melody is the sun. It is a dangerous exercise for one with such a tenuous grip on the real world. It is much easier when the gigs suck, or when I am out of practice. Then the decisions I have made are easier to swallow. The voices are quelled and my internal monologue verifies what I feared the most: that I wasn't good enough. Sadly I have been experiencing a new wave of interest in playing. I have been practicing. I have been doing more gigs. My playing is on point. The beast is awake and it is hungry.

I did a gig a couple weeks ago and my bike crew showed up to see the old man play. To them I have always been comic relief, the old slow dude they adopted nine years ago. To see their reaction and feel the support was awesome and bitter. The questions come and after all these years the answers elude. The stage is such a great place to visit, but for me it is an old love, obsessive and toxic. The passion is explosive, the fire burns, but in the morning I am still a Montague, and music the Capulet. The night is a stolen season and in the light of day, there are jobs to work and bills to pay. I have to crush my soul back into a little box and march into Monday.

It's one thing to get applause and to see your friends smile, quite another to hear questions from musicians you admire. A friend recently asked why I didn't pursue a gig as a drummer for a touring artist. The "WHY" list begins to run, but somewhere in the back of a place you never shine the flashlight, there's a part of you that wonders if you could. Would the marriage survive? Would the kids do okay with out you at the swim meets and half time shows? Would they do as well in school? It's all bubble gum for the brain because the gig does not exist. I thought for years (conditioned by organized religion) that I never found the light because I was a bad person. Today I discovered that an old acquaintance is flourishing in the world I so wished to attain. He is not as talented as I am, and he is a colossal ass to boot. The comparison game is one of my old favorites. It's all about the scoreboard and the back story is never told. It sure makes for a fun "why not me" session when you are crawling to five O'clock. The dreams and regrets walk hand in hand.

I have said it before, and here it comes again: thank (Deity of choice) that group of guys that never saw me play, took me in and let me ride bikes with them. They saved my life. Thank (Deity of choice) for the bicycle. Thank (Deity of choice) for the woods and the canopy roads we ride. Let us all pray that the voices are forever quelled by the increase in miles. Every now and then I may get to hit the drums and sing a few songs. It's nice to go to the circus as long as you don't come home wearing clown paint.

The bike is in the garage, this I know.



BIGWORM said...

Your drums, like the trails, waves, etc. are your place to express. Some of us need a place to pour out our insides, be it for the better or worse. It gives us a venue to sift through the chaff and come up with the grain of what we cherish, whatever that may be. Seeing you play the other night, watching you melt into that place, took me immediately and without detour, to every moment I've felt that my bike, or my surfboard, or my skateboard just vanished beneath me, and I simply was whatever I was doing. No longer a conglomeration of pieces, finally, the sum of the moment. Thanks for sharing. I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

Mark said...

For selfish reasons, I am kinda glad you didn't "make it big". If you had, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be hanging with us. For what it is worth, I seriously think you are happier now the way things are, than you would be if you were drummer for Creed (or whatever) There is no doubt you have the talent to do it, but what would you have given up? How do you define success?

juancho said...

how did you find out i was writing songs again and doing so well at it?

Ms. Moon said...

I feel all of this. The sadness, the resolve, the gratefulness.
What a beautiful piece of writing- another talent you are using, whether you count it or not.
In the end- the love you take is equal to the love you make.
Or so I've heard.
Kids. Wife.
Worth it. Every bit.

Little Ball said...

Epic night and you are a baller! What a deep post and comment from worm! I enjoyed the hell out of it!

Human Wrecking Ball said...

I really love it when the comments are better than the post.
Dang Worm got out the big pen for that one.
Mark got deep. A symptom of seeing through Dad goggles no doubt.
Sister Moon, always gets it.
You know when you get to Zak and he doesn't drop and f-bomb, things are good.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Sorry Jauncho....dat shizzle was funny. Can't wait to hear the lyrics.

BIG JIM said...

I envy your talent. I always dreamed of being able to play a musical instrument and playing it well. I've rocked out to music and daydreamed of being in the band. There are doers and there are dreamers. I've alway been a dreamer. Be glad in the fact that you are a doer. My grandad always said that if something is worth doing it is worth doing well. Being a good husband and dad right now seems to be bringing you much happiness and you are "doing it well". If you ask me your priorities are just right. You keep doing and I'll keep dreaming. We'll always have Paradise.

WheelDancer said...

This post hits home for me as I too am a recovering musician and likely still would be if the career was wrapped in a different lifestyle. Late nights, living hand to mouth, surrounded by fast living and hard partying. The muse will never leave me and the talent remains but without the skills polished for hours a day, I'm left creaking down the musical equivalent of the community bike path whilst dreaming of the raging singletrack.

On the other hand, when I get on the bike, the singletrack is mine for the taking and the satisfaction as deep as the exhaustion.

Beat the skins when the chance comes but don't forget to go home, er, I mean that's the choice that's been working for me.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

This is the best thread of comments ever! I just got home from a gig. I would have bet my house that it was going to suck. It turned out great and I only clammed one tune. Feels good but heres the rub: I held back the entire time, because I was worried I was using reserves I would need for the race Sunday.
A good friend once told me that it's not a problem when your hobbies interfere with your life, it's when the hobbies interfere with each other that you have issues. I have a whole magazine rack of issues....feeling pretty good tonight.

Anonymous said...

I will soar, then, beyond this power of my nature also, still rising by degrees toward him who made me. And I enter the fields and spacious halls of memory, where are stored as treasures the countless images that have been brought into them from all manner of things by the senses. There, in the memory, is likewise stored what we cogitate, either by enlarging or reducing our perceptions, or by altering one way or another those things which the senses have made contact with; and everything else that has been entrusted to it and stored up in it, which oblivion has not yet swallowed up and buried.

Confessions of St. Augustine

nicol said...

Good luck this Sunday at your race!

This was yet another really good post of yours. Bigworm was right recently when he said they keep getting better. Annnnd, don't start "holdin' back" on the writing just cuz you have a gig or race the next day, because then it'd be obvious you really do have "issues"! ;-)


The Old Bag said...

Let us all pray that the voices are forever quelled by the increase in miles.

And they are.

Great piece.

Anonymous said...

writing quells them also; great post

nicol said...

Well? How was the race? :)

Human Wrecking Ball said...

I got eighth. That's the short story. I led the first three quarters of the race and got spanked on the first climb. I tried last years plan of going out hard, but my I may have gone too hard. Still pretty happy over all. Thanks for asking Nic.