One of the things I’m beginning to do is take a deep dive into music. Making it, to be specific. I’m interested in teaching my daughter about music and she shows an interest, thankfully. From birth, she’s been surrounded by and exposed to me and my amateur efforts on guitar and my non-stop soundtrack of my life. I always have music playing it seems.
I don’t care if Cecelia hates guitar, but surely there’s an instrument that will interest her (although I think it’s guitar) and to that end, I have all sorts of instruments lying around the house. Ukelele, banjo, mandolin, xylophone, mouth harp, slide whistle, tambourine, castanets, and quite a few others. Cecelia has already wanted to jam with me on guitar, which of course was one of the best moments of my life.
My guitar collection has grown to be ridiculous, impressive and one reason I can’t turn back now. I’ve been playing guitar for decades, and at times been much better than I am now. I’m very out of practice. While I was married, I sort of dropped all my hobbies and interests, but I’m slowly picking them back up now that I’m only taking care of 1 child and not three, which consumed my time I previously dedicated to personal pursuits.
Immersing myself in musical influences is one way I think keeps me focused and gives me goals to strive for. I also can see how certain things are played. One of the guys that keep popping up in my quest to shred is John Mayer.
I’ve written about him on this website before. He’s been on my radar for a long time, and I used to go see him gigging in Atlanta before he hopped on a rocket to explode out of the guitar stratosphere. I really think he’ll go down as one of the all-time best guitarists ever. His songs may not be for everyone, but he can play anything, with anyone, in any style, and has become a serious master of the instrument. And he’s young enough so that he has a lot of open road before him. He’s filled in for Jerry Garcia which is one of the biggest tributes to his playing abilities there is, I think. But he keeps reaching higher and he’s serious about the music and instrument. He’s let go of his ego and filled with creativity and ability.
When I juxtapose him with, say, Dave Matthews, I see Dave as kind of out of fresh ideas, middle-aged, burned out and ready to kick back and enjoy the fruits of his labor. John Mayer, like Bob Weir, has too much music left in his soul to do that. He’s a font of artistry that is far from running dry like other musicians that came on the scene around the same time he did. The way he’s learned was to lock himself in a room and play for hours on end. He got some loopers and just started playing and making jams. That’s the way to do it. And I’m doing the same thing with my limitations kept in check and ever-present. But like John Mayer, I’ve got a lot of miles yet to cover, and this isn’t a race. It’s a journey on which I collect things along the way to make each leg of the route even more fun and better.
This is a cut from an intimate gig he did as Bill Buchanan trying out some stuff from the Continuum album and showcases his awesome style:
I haven’t subscribed to a cable service in a very, very long time, and I don’t watch TV like I did growing up. Everything’s changed. The way I consume media, and the way it’s offered, both for the better.
People I grew up around used to get their news from one of the 3 or4 stations they picked up on tv: ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. from around 5:30-8pm each weekday night, households across America had one of the old-school, much revered, talking heads telling them what was going on in the world. Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, etc… They also had a subscription to a local newspaper, the State newspaper and possibly a few other periodicals like the WSJ or NYT. They also subscribed to magazines like Newsweek and Time and that was how we stayed on top of the current events. Usually, a few days or even weeks after things had taken place. If at all, and carefully (and responsibly) presented by journalists.
Flash forward to today when it’s clickbait headlines, noise, absolute bias, ulterior motives, activist journalism, and a firehose of information given by people who have no idea what they’re talking about to the actual source and SMEs themselves.
Additionally, no one much gets “cable tv” anymore like in the ’80s or even ’90s. Maybe satellite for rural areas. And subscriptions to newspapers has fallen off the chart. Social media has replaced a lot of the time we used to spend absorbing the current events and thinking and learning about where we along the timeline of global history, politically, economically, politically, culturally, etc…
The way I’ve learned to best manage it and stay sane and unbiased and well-informed is to curate the information that’s out there. A co-worker asked me how I get my news. She listens to NPR on the way to work, gets it from social media, and maybe a couple of other sources.
The way I’ve chosen to get my information isn’t from the sources, but the topics. I know who provides the material, and I’m aware of their certain leanings, whether politically, or how in-depth and insightful I on their on their reporting. As useless as USA Today and CNN are, they still have a lot of resources dedicated to acquiring and distributing information. I feel I should take advantage of that. I’m fairly smart enough to filter out the bias and read it from the author’s perspective, even if it differs from my own. That helps give me a more balanced idea of what’s really going on, and how our society is really reacting to it.
One of the most frequent, easiest and best tools I use for this is Refind. It’s awesome. And it is well-integrated and has simple ways to save and view articles. And there’s a social aspect to it, but not too much. I’d highly recommend trying it out. An extension I find handy, if not slightly distracting in a good way, is that every time I open a new tab in my browser, I’m given the latest and newest stories that might be of interest to me. I can quickly scan the articles and see if there’s something to bookmark for later, share, or save to a collection to little libraries I’m building on certain topics, or about certain events or people. In this way, I can filter out all the things I’m not interested in, and only get the relevant stuff. And it learns my preferences and makes suggestions on who and what to follow as well, which just makes it more and finely-tuned and dialed in.
Try Refind today, feel more enlightened and sane tomorrow.
I’m sitting here after just getting back from a Christmas party, reflecting on this year’s Christmas versus last year’s. And I’m feeling very grateful and counting my many thanks. Although last year I still had my sweet dog Annie by my side, right now I have another dog I’m watching laying beside me. And a fire in the fireplace. And the house is completely decorated and ready for Christmas. This is going to be a very good Christmas.
My daughter will be rejoining me in a few days and I cannot wait. I’m as excited about Christmas as she is, because she’s so excited. It’s just a great time of year. She’ll be with me for a long stretch of time and I cannot wait. She’s so much fun at this age.
I have a long gratitude list to write. My cup overfloweth. I’ve managed to dial everything in just right so that I went from last year being in the most miserable place ever to today, where every facet of my life is perfect. Totally amazing. I guess they’re right: you have to hit rock bottom to appreciate all that life has to offer. I’m ready to embrace life with Cecelia by my side and we couldn’t be in a better position to explore this amazing world we live in.
Time to start setting some goals for 2019! And beyond!
I know one goal I’m thinking about involves something along the lines of the following:
I think Ronnie Van Zandt said it best in his musical masterpiece: “I’m as free as a bird now and this bird you cannot change.”