Why I shouldn’t be so down on myself (but often am)…

After a few things happened in quick succession that made me feel a bit yuk…

Okay, more about me and where I’m at right now. I feel quite deflated, feeling that I mishandled that event yesterday with the Muso guy. On reflection, my enthusiasm to share ideas with him probably came across as criticisms (I told him I wouldn’t have had the speaker on the floor like he did to get more bottom end, I told him why I had my preamp set up differently to his etc), and I don’t recall if I asked before I picked up his bass guitar. Unfortunately sometimes the simplest of politenesses escapes me. I probably just picked up his bass to examine the differences to mine (same brand and make, slightly different in other ways). I was so focussed on checking out the differences, I didn’t think to ask. I wouldn’t blame him for being a little put out that I hadn’t asked permission. And he had seemed a little unsettled, so I don’t think it was my imagination (but my imagination is very fertile indeed!)

Now that’s not enough in itself. What else is going on? A client sent me an email questioning something I had told him, and although I was able to give him a positive response I realised I had previously given him misinformation – hence his questioning, and it’s NOT the first time this has happened with him, or with other clients. It feels like my job is getting harder with so many things to potentially get wrong, or is it just that I’m not paying enough attention? I fear the latter. The upshot of all that is that I want my clients to be able to rely on me, but if I’m regularly having to correct myself to them that hardly instils confidence that I’m the right one to be looking after their finances.

Then, speaking with my daughter on Skype last night she laughingly referred to an event when she was 6, where I took her in a canoe down the river, she got wet from the water in the bottom of the boat and was thoroughly miserable, and then to top it off I pulled over to one side and took what seemed to her to be ages to swing out of a tree and into the river (numerous times). She simply mentioned it to explain that it took her ages to come to like being in a canoe again.

Well, me in my already agitated state from yesterday, immediately felt awful that I could have been so obtuse not to notice her misery and worse still to leave her in the boat while I went off to swing out of trees! I’m sure she was safe, but it sounds like it was all about me, instead of looking after her.

There, that about sums it up. Add those together and I am suffering a heavier than usual bout of being down on myself and feeling pretty miserable. I’m hoping that writing this helps me to clear my head (always looking for solutions!), and I think it actually is. Pretty boring reading for you, though, if you’ve even managed to get this far.

The reality is, those things that I feel bad about did happen, and I have a right to be upset or concerned about them, but the issue is always “by how much”? I’d like to think I will learn from them, and I probably will to some small extent. But feeling good about myself is never easy. So I’ll struggle for a while, eventually get on top of it and then (unfortunately) something else will snowball and I’ll get down again. At least I know that I will feel better, even if not for very long.

So is any of this blogging helping me to find my creative self? Way too early to tell. But I tell you what, if I ever get down to writing any songs, these blogs will give me loads of ideas for lyrics, and I reckon that’s a good thing.

Dealing with expectations

It can be hard handling the expectations of people you’ve just met

Day two. I had originally planned on airing my opinions on important topics – climate change, terrorism, and anything else that hit the headlines. Kind of a chance for me to flesh out what I really think, which I’m sure is actually pretty hazy and undefined. But I thought, maybe I’ll find that I know more than I think, and maybe it will be therapeutic to get it all out there.

And maybe it will, when I get around to it. But today I thought I’d write about what happened this morning. See if I can make any sense out of the jangling feelings I have at the moment.

My wife and I went to church (as we usually do, one of these modern, contemporary churches with music that sounds like its straight off the radio) and I had planned to catch up with one of their musos after the meeting. We’d met on Friday night, at a men’s event which I had gone along to for that very purpose, to meet and get to know other guys. He is the main bass player at church, and nearly every week I’ve seen him up there, rocking away. He’s pretty good and looks like he enjoys himself. I had already discounted the idea of joining the team because I am actively involved enough in my other bands, and also I had played in church bands for over a decade, leaving my wife to sit in the congregation by herself almost all of that time. I had promised her and myself that it wouldn’t happen again.

But I wanted to talk to him, and I wanted them (the team) to know that I could play, even though I wasn’t intending to join. I suppose it’s a bit like flirting with someone you don’t intend to do anything with – sending out signals but leaving people potentially frustrated when you don’t follow through (I should explain that these music teams are always looking for recruits). So we spoke about bass guitars, effects pedals and bass amps, and he said come up and check out his rig and his guitar on Sunday. So I decided I would.

I must admit I had mixed feelings about it. What if I got up on stage and he had forgotten entirely about his offer, and wandered off the stage just as I was about to say hi? What if I went up and he was talking with others, and I stood around feeling awkward for 2-3 minutes before sidling off the stage in as nonchalant a manner as possible? What if I walked up there too soon? Would I look too eager, like a try hard?

Oh the inner wrestlings of our minds! I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in experiencing all these inner scenarios. If I am, you’ll probably stop reading around about now…

Anyway, so I go up on stage and he sees me and remembers his offer and slaps me on the back and starts to show me around. That goes okay, but as we talk I remember him saying that he used to play guitar and only took up bass 3 years ago, to fill a gap in the team. And it shows, because as I start talking enthusiastically about the difference between his bass and mine, and the fact that he lays his speaker cabinet on the floor to get the bass rumbling through the floor but I don’t because it’s too boomy, I see a disconnect going on in his mind – he’s just not interested.

He’s keen to show me everything and tell me everything, but doesn’t seem to want know my thoughts or feelings. And after showing me a bunch of stuff, he then throws in a comment I had been expecting all along – was I interested in joining the team?

Of course, he had every right to ask the question. I’ve already admitted that I was kind of flirting (a musos flirt, not a sexual one of course), showing a interest in everything etc. and a part of me kind of wanted to be asked, and also wanted to be involved. But I knew I couldn’t, and so I haltingly explained why, and made a lame offer that I could always step in as an emergency player if they needed me, if I was given enough notice.

Well of course, that would never happen. They had teams that met every Thursday night, you had to learn songs, show your skill and commitment etc. No way would they use someone who hadn’t played with them yet, hadn’t shown a level of commitment and hadn’t already learnt the songs (in my defence I’m very good at learning songs, but they couldn’t know that).

Anyway, after some dialogue around all of this, he suddenly cut the conversation short, said he had to get a bite to eat before the next service, and off he went. And I felt awful.

Why do I feel awful? I hadn’t made any promises. Can’t a guy show interest in another guy’s gear, talk shop, and leave it at that? I know he had a right to ask if I was interested, and probably it was fair for him to expect that I would be, but it still hurt a little at the end when he just cut it short. Was that what all this was about? Just trying to enlist another player?

I hope not, and time will tell. I can understand if he was a little disappointed, but I would have had this conversation with someone on the music team sooner or later. The opportunity would need to be have been addressed, even if just so I could say to myself I’ve ruled it out. But I hope that next time I see him we can just chat as fellow musos. Now the agenda has been removed, maybe it can just be that. I hope so.

Starting out

Okay here we go. A blog a day? Maybe – we’ll see.

I’ve started this in a ridiculous knee jerk response to a book I am reading where the author started writing a 3 page blog everyday in order to get her creative juices flowing. I would love to get my creative juices flowing and really don’t have a clue how to do it (or the energy to thoroughly research how to do it either) so I thought “Why not?” Can’t hurt, but I doubt that I will keep it up (and as a realist I’ll try to do only one page a day). Knee jerk responses are often like that – so “unthought out” that they lack the momentum necessary to break through the typical apathy that sets in a few days later. So this falls in the category of New Year’s resolution material – and I’d given up on New Years resolutions decades ago!

Fact this, my life isn’t entirely boring. I put a moderate amount of effort into avoiding a boring life – I own my own business, and while I could certainly be more motivated about it, I’m not sitting on my hands – I am trying different ways, albeit at my own leisure, to build it and grow.

I’m also in two bands – one a blues rock band, the other a country rock band (much more rock than country really, or so I keep telling myself). I have persisted with working on my voice, which has been cracking pretty badly, because I want to be a good backing vocalist in the bands. It appears that I could be winning that battle, but it isn’t going away without a fight.

I don’t want to succumb to old age either – I work out regularly in spite of the fact that I appear to be developing nagging pain in my shoulder. The truth is I am more than a bit concerned that my shoulder pain will spell the end of at least some of my fitness regime. Oh well, I will reluctantly accept it if all avenues fail in healing my shoulder. In that event I will modify my workouts, but not give them up.

I sense as I write this that you, the reader, may be picking up that I am perhaps trying harder than necessary to keep my life from being boring, or dull. I suppose I feel that life is a gift, and I am terrified of squandering it. Maybe not the best of motivations, but in the absence of anything more noble or well balanced, I’ll settle for doing something to keep life interesting than doing nothing and just ‘living’.

Which brings me back to this blog. I am good at putting my hand to things. By and large I can copy or duplicate what is needed to do a certain exercise, or fix a specific problem around the house (I’m not that handy, but I can muddle through enough most of the time). Now I know there’s no shame in being able to copy or do something well, but something inside me wants to create.

To create is different from copying or organising what already is. And I believe I have creativity locked in there somewhere. A lot of my bass lines (I play bass in the bands) are quite creative. In that arena I appear to be relatively unfettered. But come to take creative photos (I’m not a bad photographer, but once again I feel like I am copying what I have seen others do), or write a song (I have the technical skills but tend to seize up), or come up with a creative design (I have done posters and other marketing stuff but it’s usually pretty ordinary) and I seem to dry up inside.

So will this blog help me to free up my creative juices? Will putting all this on a page everyday (yeah, we’ll see) somehow undamn the reservoir of creative ideas? Will it start as the tiniest droplet squeezing through the beginnings of a crack in the damn wall, to be followed slowly but inevitably by a trickle, then by a stream, then by a torrent that sweeps the damn wall away forever? Hardly likely (and very melodramatic I know) but, being the pragmatist that I am, any improvement will be seized upon and appreciated (probably overanalysed as well).

Well I think I’ll stop here. See what tomorrow brings.