Which are you doing? I mean, honestly, which are you really doing?
When your time comes, I hope you’ll be happy with the choices you’re making right now. You aren’t going to get another chance at it.
Put down your smartphone and go play with your kids.
One of my all-time favourite lyric lines, from a song called “Flight 19.” You can’t be one and not the other.
This is the sixth in a series of articles. Previous entries can been accessed quickly with these links:
Part 6: Challenges and Potential Solutions
For the purpose of a quick review, here are just some of the challenges I see between me and the completion of this project:
– I don’t have the money
– I don’t have the time
– I don’t have the talent as a guitarist
– I don’t have the ability as a singer
– I don’t have the right gear, or know anything about what the right gear even is
– I have an electric guitar I bought for $150 at pawn shop
– I don’t have a band
– I don’t have anywhere for a band to rehearse
– I’m not in good enough shape, physically, to perform the way I want for a couple of hours
– I’m not in good enough shape, vocally, to record or perform the way I want for a couple of hours
– I don’t know how to properly record rock music, or where to do it
– I’m a single dad with a busy career whose top priority is his kids. My time with them is off-limits to much else. What sense does it make to take this on?
Just how in the world am I supposed to overcome these challenges?
I’ve been thinking about that.
I’ve already begun to play my guitars more and more. And I’ve committed myself to creating a “Song Blog” on my KevinBulmer.com page to force myself to play and sing on a somewhat regular basis. It’s likely that some (most) of those Song Blogs, at some point in 2016, will be demos of Mutineer tracks. That process alone should start to build some singing and playing chops back up, along with nurturing and feeding a consistent rhythm of creativity.
I figure I can always take some guitar and/or vocal lessons this year to sharpen up. Plus, I work in sales & marketing during the day. I’m on the road a lot. Nothing’s stopping me from singing along with the songs in the car or doing vocal drills to build up endurance and skill while I’m in between appointments.
You don’t find the time – you make the time.
As for my level of guitar or vocal proficiency (or lack thereof), I’m finally at peace with the idea of sounding like … well … me. After all, I’m the only “me” there is. I want to be the best representation of myself that I can, but I’m simply not going to have the level of skill that someone who does it for a living will have. I earn my living in other ways. I have two great kids who are my top priority. I am only willing devote so much time to becoming better at playing guitar or singing. But I’ll do my best and that’ll be that. For areas where I really need people with a high level of skill, I’ll find help. My ace in the hole is that there are lots of people who sing and play, but I’m the only one who has my songs. And I’ll go to bat with them any day.
I’ve begun to change my gym routine to include more cardio and a lot more stretching. I’ve also begun to learn some beginning yoga poses and intend to take some classes through 2016 to gain more endurance, core and leg strength and flexibility. And if you don’t think I’ll need it, you have no idea what I’m intending to do. I don’t plan on just standing there. You’ll see.
Money, I can make. I could start a Mutineer online store and sell merchandise. Perhaps I’ll start a Pledge Music campaign once I get closer to it. Maybe I can secure some sponsorship. Perhaps there are grants available in Canada for this kind of thing. But the money is the part I’m actually concerned about the least. That part will figure itself out.
As for gear, recording and rehearsal space, I don’t have to know about all that. I just need to find people I can trust that do have that knowledge. I know what I do have: the songs. I can learn from others about everything else.
But what about the other players? Well, I already have a certain guitarist in mind, and have been thinking of trying to work with him for many years. In all of my visions of this project, he is the guy who is the other anchor of it all. He doesn’t know this, and would have absolutely no idea I’ve been thinking of him at all. And after I reach out to him, it may end up that he either isn’t interested or isn’t the right fit. But I want that to be part of this process of discovery. Ever since I first saw this guy play and met him 8 or 9 years ago, I figured we’d someday work on something together. When I see the moving picture in my mind of this band on stage, he’s the guitar player, the anchor, the cleanup hitter. We’ll find out if I’m right or not. I have not reached out to him yet, but will do that soon.
Why be so picky? Well, I need, or at least I think I need, somebody with a certain set of skills that likes a lot of the same music that I do that can pull off the level of playing that I’m envisioning. I want to play guitar on some of the songs, but not all of them. I even have a few specific songs in mind that I know I want to include in the concert, and I know he could not only handle them, but would likely enjoy playing them, because I know he loves a certain band as much as I do.
I have no vision yet of who plays bass or drums, although I do envision some guest vocalists to appear on certain songs and in the concert. I figure that if I can somehow convince the guitar player I’ve mentioned to jump on board with me, the rest will sort itself out. And if it’s not him, someone else will find their way to me somehow. Navigating through that will all be part of the process.
Having said all of this, what could possibly be in it for you to take any time and trouble to follow along? I’ve thought about that, too, and will share those feelings in the final entry of this series in Part 7, tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!
This lyric is from a song I wrote over a decade ago, originally titled “Brave New Hope.” This particular line is in the song’s bridge, and it speaks with a perspective that I must have had in my consciousness in order to write it down all those years ago, but it was not until very recently that I truly began to embrace its essence in my every day life. Attitude and outlook are, it seems, things that are within our control.
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I really like going to my gym. I love to be around the positive energy. Regardless of what someone’s age, gender or physical condition might be, I have always figured that if a person has made the effort to go to a gym, they have made and acted upon a decision to try and do something positive for themselves. I respect that, and I very much like being in that environment. And I’ve often found that all it takes is one other person to offer an encouraging word to make my entire day.
Still, there are times when I just don’t feel like going. And I’m keenly aware that when I put it off for more than a few days, my sense of well-being suffers noticeably. Despite that, I encounter times when I don’t feel I have the juice to go and put enough effort in to get something out.
On days when I do overcome the “blahs” to end up completing an exercise routine anyway, I feel so much better. And yet, working out my body, I’ve found, is not the only tangible benefit I can take from choosing the treadmill over the couch.
This past weekend, I found myself in the midst of a particularly busy stretch of days. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before, I was rushing from one event to get ready for another that evening, and quite frankly felt somewhat overwhelmed mentally. I certainly did not feel like pushing up any weights or running any considerable distance on a treadmill. But I ended up at the gym anyway.
Once there, I did not even end up doing much exercise. I had a serious case of the “blahs.” I jogged for a little while and tried some stretches and yoga poses (and I use the term “yoga poses” very loosely. Recklessly, even. But I’m trying to learn). Satisfied I’d at least justified the change into workout clothes, I then decided to sit in the sauna for a little while to do a mini-meditation before getting myself cleaned up and on with the rest of the day.
Now for a quick aside: I’ve always been very comfortable speaking in front of crowds, or delivering a radio broadcast or even singing and performing in front of people. But whenever it would come to very standard, idle chit-chat with passersby, I have preferred to be left alone for as long as I can remember. I’ve since changed, but I had to force myself to change. It is coming more naturally to me now, but I had to make the choice to look up instead of down and to say “hello” instead of nothing. I’ve always been somewhat puzzled by the tendency.
On this day, I admit I thought I’d be happy to be left alone for a few moments. I was still mentally tired. I didn’t feel I’d put in much of a workout. And I still had many hours of busyness ahead of me yet before the day would be out. I’d have been pleased to just sit there and sweat.
That’s when an older gentleman of Portuguese decent came into the sauna and sat down across from me. In years past, I admit, I’d have perhaps nodded a polite greeting and then continued to stare at the ground. But I’ve changed. For the better.
Instead, I looked up and asked, “How is your day going, my friend?”
His body language changed. Instantly. Visibly. His shoulders relaxed. His face smiled. His eyes brightened.
He said, “Oh, good, good! And you? You are good?”
He and I began to chat, and although his English is a little broken and my Portuguese is non-existent, we managed to have a very pleasant conversation just the same. We talked about weather. We talked about soccer (which I know little about). We talked about hockey (which he knows little about). And we talked about how much better we each feel if we make the effort to come to the gym.
We also talked about how much we each appreciate the other being willing to talk.
I ended up leaving both that conversation in my visit to the gym feeling exponentially better than when I had gone in, and it had nothing to do with lifting weights or spin classes. It was simply because of a genuine few moments of pleasant interaction with a person from a different culture and generation than me. In the time I was talking with that gentlemen, not a single thought about anything else occurred to me except for engaging in conversation with him. It was freeing and relaxing, and I continue to be amazed how it really does not take much to brighten not only someone else’s day, but your own in the process.
It’s worth considering. Whether you’re at a place to do a workout or to buy a bag of groceries or to sit and wait at the doctor’s office, everybody else there with you is struggling in some way too. It costs absolutely nothing to smile and have a pleasant word. Why not? More often than not, you will benefit directly from that by way of good feeling anyway.
When I go to the gym, I feel good. Many times, it’s because my muscles feel harder.
Other times, it’s because my heart feels softer.