This is Part 1 in a series.
I had been so inspired with my guitar playing recently. I’d been practicing and thinking about it virtually non stop since early fall 2015.
And this after playing most days of my life since my teenaged years. Self taught.
And of course, I’ve been teaching guitar professionally for 22 years now.
I also majored in guitar at one of Canada’s finest music colleges. Graduated at the top of my class.
After graduation, I did a bunch of things guitar related. Played in cover bands, original bands (lots of girls!), solo gigs at conferences and weddings (nice pay!), started my teaching biz.
Played a thousand open mics. Literally.
Not to mention that last year (2015) I finally was able to produce an EP of 5 of my songs of totally professional quality.
This is no easy task — even though home recording is so accessible. To learn the engineering and then use the equipment to get professional results is a formidable task.
With some help and mentoring (Thanks Gary!), and lots of practice over the years, I was finally able to do it in my small home studio.
I also had support from many of you who are reading this too — by pre purchasing the CD “Hey Mary Hey.” Thank you 🙂
This is all just to say that guitar and music has been a big part of my life and my goals.
A few weeks ago, I decided to google a service in GTA (Greater Toronto Area for those not familiar with Toronto, Canada — or T-dot for short) to fix a minor issue with my guitar amp.
It led me to a guy in the suburbs who builds his own amps and guitar pedals from scratch. All based on the gear in the late sixties and early seventies.
Point to point hand wired amps, germanium transistors in the fuzz pedals instead of silicon. Vintage.
The stuff that created the magic tones of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and other “guitar heroes.”
The amp, pedals and guitar one instrument of only wood, steel and glass.
I was intrigued and inspired by his concept when we chatted over the phone. So I decided to go to his shop and check out a germanium fuzz pedal.
The day before I was scheduled to head over, he called me up to confirm. We ended up chatting a bit more about the music business and being a musician.
He said something completely unintentional that hit me like a ton of bricks.
He said something along the lines of “Yeah, like those frustrated geniuses that think they need to suffer for their art. They’re still really trying to make their music work.”
And I thought “Is that me?” And this question continued to work it’s way into my consciousness for the rest of the day.
And while I slept and dreamt that night.
The next morning, a Monday, I was “dazed and confused.” I didn’t know what was happening to me.
I was able to function, but I was just going through the motions. I felt disconnected from my usual surroundings somehow.
I decided it was some weird temporary thing and that the best thing to do would be simply push through with my original plans as best I could.
I drove out to the burbs and met Steve. The guy who builds amps and fuzz pedals, etc.
I tried his pedals. Sounded great, but I wasn’t excited because I was so zapped out from not knowing what was going on.
“Was music even my thing anymore?” I kept asking myself silently.
I saw how Steve had a young family (a couple of toddlers), a nice little house and a rack of guitars and gear.
He basically played for fun, and while I was there another dude showed up to pick up a Marshall amp that Steve had fixed up for him.
I decided to get the fuzz pedal in the hopes that I was just in a temporary delusional state — and that my “normal” inspiration and confidence would return.
I handed Steve a wad of cash after the other dude left (after he handed Steve an even bigger wad of cash).
I thought “Wow. Steve’s just treating it like a hobby. And look at the money!”
Ok. Money. A hot issue with everyone.
Everyone is either chasing after it, or they have an aversion to it.
Or some “driving with the brakes on” combo of the two. But we all need it.
note: Money is also a cool tune by the above mentioned Pink Floyd. It’s in 7/4 time.
In the past, I had mixed programming regarding money. I grew up in a middle class home where money was not the problem.
The problem was my relationship with my father. He was very tough on me. I know now that he was like that because he loved me and he was doing his best to teach me what he knew.
He was actually a very beautiful human man. But teenagers have 2 paths. Conform to their family’s values or rebel. I chose to rebel because I felt the calling to do and be something different from my dad’s hopes.
And of course, I now realize most of us are a combination of rebelling and conforming to what we were taught in our formative years. True freedom comes when we are free from both conforming and rebelling.
I don’t want to get into that too much other than to shed some light on things.
And there may be readers who have similar issues and they can benefit from my story.
Because of the relentless pressure from the relationship with my father, I decided to leave home at the tender age of 17 and I ended up on the streets of Toronto.
This lasted for a little while until I was able to start getting work, etc. I was directed by a compassionate hostel worker to a social worker who helped me.
I was able to use their phone, get a resume typed (yes, typed!) up, etc. Feel some acceptance for who I was.
Others in my family (uncles, cousins, etc.) were even upper middle class and a couple were even rich.
I saw that people weren’t necessarily happy, therefore money wasn’t the source of happiness.
Nothing external is. External things reflect our happiness –or unhappiness — back to us.
Or they are simply neutral and we project our stuff onto it.
Toward the end of high school, I thought that when I did earn a living, I at least wanted to do something I enjoyed.
Not just for the money. Something I could feel passionate about.
So part of my programming came about as a reaction or rebellion to the way I was brought up.
I was kind of anti money. Definitely as far as the “keeping up appearances” kind of having money.
Plus, starting on the Toronto streets (hanging out in the Eaton Centre and Salvation Army drop in centres to stay warm — very tough at Christmas watching the shoppers) and scratching my way up from there — well, let’s just say I missed more meals than your average college student.
Besides the rebelliousness toward money and the WASP (white anglo saxon protestant) status quo of my family, I also developed “poverty consciousness.”
I began to believe that I was less than others. I didn’t deserve.
I formed these false beliefs from my first years being on my own with little to no support.
After many years of working on myself and various issues, I think I’ve made some great progress.
In the areas of health, I’m doing great. I’m full of vitality and regular exercise is an installed habit.
I don’t smoke or drink and have no trouble sticking to a healthy diet.
I’m also with my soulmate. We’re going strong coming up on 10 years now.
We’re a team and to me she’s absolutely the most fascinating and incredible person. And of course, very beautiful!
We’re wiser and stronger and more loving together.
I’ve managed to survive for the past 20 plus years with not much more than a guitar, my musical skills and my understanding of human nature.
But now I’m not certain where I stand in relation to my musical journey and goals. A major shift has occured.