Insomnia

At night the ocean is a giant black void. It’s the beginning and the end.  The future and the past. It’s every dream and every nightmare rolled into one. The waves are the sound of perpetual motion. Proof the world continues on around you – even when you hold your breath.  You are small. You are insignificant.
It’s customary to be scared of the dark.  As a child I was.  Now I like the dark.  At times I crave it.  It’s peaceful. It’s anonymous.  It’s also where my demons and I can sit quietly, undisturbed, and really take a good look at each other.
It makes sense for you not to know your demons very well.  Their nature is to terrify you so sitting down with one of them for a cuppa probably seems like an odd concept.  You’d like to think that your demons know you, though. They are yours after all.  I bet it never occurred to you that some of them are only haunting you because it’s their job.  Some of them are there because you think you “should” be haunted. (There’s that awful word again – “should”.  ugh.)  Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s just their job to haunt you.   Sometimes when you can stop being scared and just really look st each other you discover they aren’t monsters at all. Just past versions of yourself. Or ideas others had about you that you held on to for some reason or another.  Sometimes they are actual people you are afraid to let go of. I have a few of those. People who have died that I hang onto. I’m so scared if I let them go they will vanish as if they never existed. (Note – THEY aren’t afraid of that. I am.)  So I live haunted of my own doing. And even then they don’t show up as often as I’d like. They don’t want to be here, after all. They have better things to do.
When we face each other in silence, really size each other up. They stop being scary. They stop being something I avoid and become something I can address. No – I don’t need to hang onto that fear I’ve had since high school.  I disproved that long ago. No – I can understand where that demon came from, but I invented that fear. That’s not actually what happened at all. Oh – that’s just a smaller, More frightened version of myself.  You’re not actually here to scare me, you’re here because you need me to comfort you… some of them are happy to be released. Some of them will never go away, but we don’t fight anymore. We’re more like a team.
At night the ocean is a giant black void.  It’s the beginning and the end. It’s the future and the past. It’s where I can sit and be alone with all of us in a comfortable stillness.
What do you see?  What do you see when you look into the dark?

Purging The Shoulds

Should.

That fucking word.  I swear to Christ.

It haunts us with things left undone. With potential.  An endless stream of what-ifs, could-haves, and maybes that meld into a theatrical chorus of “You are not good enough as you are”.

I’m not talking about positive self-improvement.  I’m talking about those twisted voices whose only purpose is to torment.  We all have them.

“The Shoulds”.
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2016 – Portrait of the Artist

I have an annual tradition where toward the end of the year I deep clean my apartment and purge everything I don’t use.  Year after year I slowly work myself toward being a minimalist.

If you come across an item you’re not sure about while you’re in the process of decluttering there is a three-question system you use:

  1. Do you actively use it?
  2. Do you need it?
  3. Do you love it?

I’ve been doing this for a while, so most things need two or more yeses to stay.

This year what struck me as I started cleaning out my ever-dwindling cabinets is that they are not full of “things” anymore. They are full of the people I used to be, or people I wish I was.

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I’m Ready to Talk Now

Because I understand multiple points of view, it takes me a while to figure out how I feel about things.  I’ve always seen this as a weakness because in debates I am not able to respond quickly.  And I can’t just blurt out whatever comes to mind because I also come with this self-edit-function that won’t allow me to stand up for something unless I know it’s true to ME.

And I wanted to sit on this until I knew I was saying my truthiest truth.

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Reflections on “When God Closes a Door”

I turned on The Sound of Music today to keep my head occupied while I started reorganizing my living space (a fall tradition).

It’s one of my favorite movies.  One of the things I really like about it is that every time I watch it, something else pops out at me.  Today’s thing was Maria’s reoccurring line:

“When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window”

I surprised myself by responding, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s always true.”

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Sit Kitty Sit

How to Play to an Empty Room

It happens more often than you might think.  Especially when you’re playing in a brand new city.  Maybe they didn’t book a local band, or maybe they cancelled at the last second.  Maybe you’re playing on a Monday, or the venue down the street has a huge sold out show.  Or maybe you only got the gig about a day ago. Or the venue forgot you were coming, or…or…or…

At times during an interview, or when I’m chatting with someone I’ll get the question “what’s your one piece of advice for musicians just starting out?”

It’s a legit question.  Typically I’ve spouted some kind of “do it because you love it” or “just don’t quit” type comments, which are kind of lame pieces of advice, but now I finally feel like I have a legit answer. What’s my piece of advice for musicians starting out?

“Learn how to play to an empty room”
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