Birthday Thoughts About Aging

Wow, I’m 54 today. Who wudda thunk it? It sounds so old and yet I still feel so young inside. Carol Burnett shares my birthday–she turns 79 today–and I thought about the age difference: 25 years. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time to me. Only 25 years. I think some varieties of Kim Chee are aged longer than that.

The idea that 25 years doesn’t seem like a long time is strong evidence that I am older. When I was 25, that span of time seemed enormous. I do miss the optimism that is inherent with being a young adult. The sky is the limit. Anything is possible.

Middle age ushers in a rude awakening. The LIST of dreams is now longer than the time left to pursue them. It’s time for triage. Of all the forks in the road that still occur to this young brain, many are now closed. Some I would have liked to pursue back when I had the chance.

Occasionally, I catch myself wallowing (too strong a word) in regret that I did not choose a full-time music career. When I was 21, I put such a life on hold in order to learn some marketable skill that I could “fall back on” and also to keep me out of the front lines of a war with Iran that seemed to be looming on the horizon. (It was 1980.) A career in computer programming offered stability and security, and I met my wife at college while I was getting my degree. The computer gig never became the fallback option but would up being the full-time deal.

Now that I am finally pursuing a full-time music career, I am increasingly aware of how much catch-up work I have to do to get established in this business. Unlike my “lifer” music contemporaries, there are networks that I have never established and industry skills that I am clueless about. I also realize how much I don’t know about music, too. Like, I’m finally getting around to learning how to play jazz standards, getting the licks down to improvise over II/V progressions, and developing piano-bar chops. Learning how to orchestrate is another skill I never acquired, which became apparent when I arranged the song “Ascent” on my Passage CD. I am very happy with how it turned out, but it was a lot of trial and error.

My regrets are about the likelihood that I am running out of time to pay all of the dues required to be fully functional in this business. These regrets are tempered by the relief that I still have computer consulting work to truly fall back on when I hit slow periods, like 2012 when my music sales have all but evaporated. (That’s okay. I’ve got some new stuff coming out in a couple of months.) And I have the wherewithal to be more selective in what kind of music work I do, while other people I know have to do everything and anything that comes their way and are still not able to afford health insurance (or rent). So I am counting my blessings and they are many!

Wow this blog post took a real serious direction, at times even solemn. I had meant to describe all the ways that I still feel like a kid inside. Like the fact that, like most 13 year old boys, I still think farts are hilarious. But so did the judges on Monday night’s episode of The Voice. They’re all in their 30’s. Let’s just face it: No matter what age you are, farts are just stinking funny!

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4 Comments

Filed under Life, Music Career

4 responses to “Birthday Thoughts About Aging

  1. mlshiira

    Happy birthday!! I’m 33 and I sometimes wonder what kind of regrets I might have at 54 (or some other such age), like if I will regret staying in accounting instead of trying to do music full-time. This post reminds me that I should be focusing on what kinds of skills I can still learn and what opportunities might await me in my future.

    • Thanks for your comment. My only advice is to learn as much as you can about the business end of music. I don’t have a head for business, so any type of learning curve is steep and encounters internal resistance (such as fear, insecurity, procrastination). Progressing in music is much easier because I love it so much and I see immediate results. Take care!

  2. joelcrb

    I feel like I’m in a similar place as you. Except I didn’t have the established career before launch img a new one, and I’m only 17 years behind you. But regarding your career, I and many like me probably don’t see that impact about your technical knowledge or expertise in music theory. Of vastly more significance as your heart for God and how He uses your music to save to heal, and to guide by His Spirit. (of course, having said that, I do know you’re not only focusing on skills and i definitely commiserate in your feelings of desiring more technical knowledge and experience)

    • Thank you so much for your comment. Yeah, I’m maybe a bit hard on myself, but not excessively so. There’s that model that describes ability into four stages of progression: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. The first two can be described as “you don’t know what you don’t know” and “you now know what you don’t know” respectively. I’m finding that there is a lot I didn’t know that I don’t know, but upon such discovery, that places me into the second phase and I can then decide what competencies I wish to develop further. The business side is the most challenging.

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