Sunday, March 4, 2012

Joel May Have Been Right

This has been a phase of confusion and doubt. Long time friend and arch nemesis, Joel, gave me a long lecture filed with analogies I didn't get, parables that were equally unclear, and illustrative stories that covered everything from Madonna to who knows what.

The maddening part is that all the ranting had an impact and was helpful in kick starting a return to a more pleasant and productive outlook. Some friends are willing to tell you when you a messing up, and I have the feeling Joel enjoys it. He'd deny that, but over the years this has happened a few times. Many years ago his blunt assessment of my state of mind and spirit was one of the influences that probably helped me save my own life.

Let me go on record as saying that admitting Joel is right is totally against my grain. Thankfully, he is usually wrong, or I have no idea what the parable means so I am spared the impulse to disagree with the point. But, there are times, when it counts, when he is right. This was one of them.

I'm unclear what put me in such a sea of self doubt and confusion. And free floating worry. Some things in my life are not bad. I think it is the fear of being able to deserve of be prepared for the good things that freezes me in my tracks as I watch myself sabotage the gifts life lays at my feet. I can think of many reasons why I have to do that, but none of them really make sense.

So, I went to the Egyptian Tea Room, and hookah parlor, to play their open mic with the two brothers. It was an interesting place and a tough crowd to play, but not a bad deal, all in all. It is a cramped space to play, but I don't think the sound was half bad and we did a far better set than I expected. It was the best I've heard them play, and the best I've done with them.
I found myself playing a little different approach from what I did in practice, and did not detect any mistakes at all. Maybe if I heard it played back I would be critical of my part somewhere along the line. I don't know. I forgot to bring my flip cam.

At any rate I think it made an impression. I'm vain and like to hear compliments afterwards. I know I played what I was intending to pay and thought it gave a unique sound. I sort of did horn section, and sort of rhythm. There were a couple of rides in there and times I encouraged a little energy when it was needed. It was a tight set.

No idea what is next in that realm of life. I guess a few more people around town know there is an old harp player about who doesn't play the typical stuff. The challenge is blending and filling out the sound, not the solo stuff. This was a delight. There are even times when the guitar and I run the same notes.

I wonder if the things I say have any influence on these kids. I hope so. My goal is to influence them away from certain pitfalls in life and toward the good stuff. My input is subtle and not of the lecture variety. Mostly by example when situations arise.

In other life, there is a little bit of work to do, and schemes to hatch. I've given up worrying about why I play my crazy harmonicas with people, young or old. I must like to play, and I must think I am good at whatever it is I do. Lately I've been trying to broaden the scope a bit. Oddly that can involve knowing when not to play or when to lay back. I thought I was good at that, but I am noticing I am getting better at it. That is because I am listening to my judgement more on it and not that of others. People tend to want you to play too much or too little on songs. They just don't know best.

That goes for many things in life--it seems like others know what is what better than I do, but they probably don't. Just because civilization confuses me doesn't mean the players in this system have the long term solutions to my dilemmas. Or that the know much. It was not all that long ago that they said in the press that cocaine wasn't addictive. That is just one example in which the current wisdom was devoid of value. Happens all the time.

The trick is to know when my own thinking or behavior is devoid of value. When I know that is happening, there are a few people I try to call because they seem to bring me back. It is a short list and I resist calling one of those people due to reasons I won't state. Just being polite mostly.

It is the fate of some of us that we tend to react poorly to life's events, if we aren't paying close attention. It is simply the first reflex to go left when we ought to go right. Knowing it is helpful, and knowing the keys to arming one's self against the self created turmoil and confinement is essential. The rest is just living. Life is, and most of it can't be changed. How it is approached and appreciated probably is within an individual's power to direct.

I try. And I have difficulty with it. But I haven't given up yet. That may pay off. If I can accept the good stuff and be prepared for it. Luckily, I don't have the compulsion to criticize others and expect them to live how I think I would live if I were they. Doesn't mean I don't observe, grade drivers as I travel and note those who cannot grasp what a true jam is.

Anywa, Joel was right and it is good to have such a friend. But believe me, the guy argues with me about whether he is arguing or I am, and I wasn't even arguing. Ever have someone ranting and raving then tell you to chill out? Crazy friggin nut. But right is right, and what can you say about that?

It was much the same message my cousin delivered to me recently. I'm luck to have such a cousin too. Without these people in my life, I'd be sunk. I wonder if I am just lucky, needy, both, or if this is how it is for everyone.

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Ballistic Mountain, CA, United States
Like spring on a summer's day


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