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This Is Not How I Am

Sitting in my room. I came in here to start tinkering on recording This Old Dawg. Funny how I’ve been talking about doing that, but I never seem to get it done. I’ve thought about that quite a lot, actually. Why is it, after putting together all this equipment and being afforded all the time I could possibly want, that I still haven’t produced anything?
At first I think I was trying to put my life back in order. After separating from my wife, losing my house and most of my belongings, and hitting a slippery slope in 2007 that saw me finally getting off of the truck, I felt so lost. That might sound strange to some people. How can you be in love, living in a new place, and still feel lost? But I did. Mostly because I didn’t know who I was anymore. I used to be the guy everyone thought would make it. The artist. The writer. The musician. The one guy with all the talent to get somewhere on his own terms. But then I got married. Then I started driving a truck. Sometime in that decade I became a husband and a truck driver. All that other stuff fell by the wayside. And when, in the end, the marriage and the truck driving was gone, I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore. All my old friends had moved on with their lives and I’d lost touch with them. All of the old references were gone. You know, those little things who make up who you are. Like where you came from, who you know, who you’re related to. I think maybe I thought that if I sorted through the miscellaneous debris of my life, those things that were left over, and put them into some kind of order, that I might be able to make sense of this loss of self and identity. I spent quite a lot of time doing that, because it seemed really important to me. But when it was all said and done, I hadn’t answered any of my questions.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t recorded. I’m afraid of it. The few trial runs I’ve made at it haven’t gone so well. Some of that is because I have a bunch of new equipment that I don’t understand all that well. But I guess most of it is simply that I clung to that idea that some day when the planets aligned and the time was right I could go back to being what I was before. And it’s a hard lesson to realize that there is no going back. There is only moving forward. By the gods, I’m terrified that in the end I might wind up being what I suspect I already am … a fat, old guy who has suffered from delusions of grandeur his entire life. It’s like as long as I don’t try, I can keep the dream alive. But I’m afraid to try and prove my own point; that my time has come and gone and all that’s left to me is going through the motions and dreaming about what could have been.
Right now we’re in such financial need that the sitting around and waiting is coming to an end. We simply can’t afford for me to sit here and think about things. Sure, I’m kind of afraid that once I go back to work on a regular job putting in full time that whatever remaining dreams I have might dissipate. But, quite frankly, ya gotta eat. Sometimes I wish I’d played my cards a little differently, been a bit more humble and swallowed my pride, and had kept driving a truck. Victoria and I would only see each other on the weekends then, but it’s a fact that money would not be a problem. Now I’m sitting down here without a diploma or a GED, wondering what in the hell kind of job I could possibly come up with at my age. What’s left to me looks like job-related, self-inflicted misery.
But I gotta do something. Even with her extra hours, what Victoria is making isn’t going to be enough. And besides, she’s tired of waiting on me to write that next book or record that album. Whatever income I might have made from being a writer or a musician has remained in the Fantasy category. The “what if?” pile.
It’s funny. This is not at all what I sat down here to write about. I’d intended to write about how I’d stumbled across some old friends. My cousin, Chris Short, called me yesterday. He’s playing in a band called Peacepipe, and they’re doing pretty good. They have an upcoming gig opening up for Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot. The band has a page on JamWave, and he wanted me to check it out and give him my opinion on the songs they have up there (which I did, and which I really like). While doing that I stumbled across another old friend, Gary Ramsey, who, in addition to his own page, has some other pages on the same site (13, Cooter Brown). He and I talked on the phone for awhile last night. It’s hard to describe the effect this had on me, coming across Chris and Gary and getting a good look at all the cool stuff they’re up to. I don’t know, man. You throw that in on top of what’s going on with Tony Rogers in the Robin Rogers Band and Art Mauney with Dancing Hobos, and I’ve begun to feel like I’m the only one who’s sitting here rotting away, not making use of the incredible opportunities that are right here at my fingertips. Gods, I envy them so.
I don’t know. Looking at those pages yesterday and listening to all that cool music made me ache to get something recorded and get it up there. Just so I could claim “hey, I’m not dead yet”. But then the sun came up and reality set in. Whatever plans I might have, they’re going to have to wait until we have a more stable financial footing. My indecision and lethargy has put us at risk, and I have to fix this situation. You know, I think in some bizarre way I have the same problem I’ve always had. I feel like I’ve paid my dues and that this is my time. But I was being childishly naive. Maybe it is my time, but that’s not just going to drop into my lap. If anything, the paying of dues never ends. You may pay dues, but it’s only enough to move you forward. Once you get there, you gotta pay Charon his toll to get you to the other side.
However it may sound, I’m rather excited about getting back to work and re-joining the real world. I’ve spent too much of my life wrapped up in this fantasy of what I might someday be. Sometimes I forget to look around me and appreciate what I am, what I have, and how wonderful it is just to live in a wonderful place with great people and an amazing woman. I guess maybe I’m saying that sometimes if you become obsessed with the idea of breathing, you forget to appreciate the sweetness of the breath. Does that make any sense?
Going back to work will severely limit my options. There won’t be much time left over for writing or recording. But that might be beneficial. It might force me to focus, and decide which of my 1,001 projects I want to get done first. Or, if nothing else, it might force me to realize that maybe I am a tired old man who noodles around with a guitar in his spare time. Maybe that’s all I was ever meant to be. A great promise that never worked out. Gods help me, I’ve begun to wonder if I’m one of those guys whose life will be a footnote in someone else’s biography. “Yes, I new this guy named Wicasta who wrote a book called M.E. Caldwell, and he made up these wild songs with orchestration and keyboards, and he never did anything with it. He made me see how no matter how much potential a person might have, it means nothing without application, and I determined that I wasn’t going to wind up like Wicasta, old and fat and licking my wounds, paralyzed by indecision and fear.”
Of course, that kid will go on to become a millionaire, but he’ll choke on a chicken bone and die, or he’ll go down in a helicopter, while I’ll live to be a ripe, old age, trying to impart my hard-earned wisdom on twenty-something artists who’ll never listen to me.
Right now I’m realizing that I’ve been going on for awhile. Instead of wasting my time (and yours, if you made it this far), I could have been writing something. Or recording. See, that’s the gist of my problem. I have all the best intentions in the world, but somehow or another I always wind up sitting around alphabetizing blocks of random information, content and somehow pacified by watching the cursor march across the screen in some insane, inane ramble that’ll wind up stored in a file on my hard drive and forgotten. Or worse yet, it’ll wind up being posted on MySpace, where it can be glanced at by a few friends, and then forgotten. What’s worse? Posting random things on MySpace for validation, or posting things on MySpace and realizing that no one cares? That it’s just one of a million posts made on MySpace every day, and that it has no special meaning or significance? Well, except for you, and the handful of friends you have who might read it.
In the words of a great philosopher; “You’re special. Just like everyone else.”
Victoria got more than she bargained for. She thought she was getting a man of great moral fiber and intelligence, who only needed an opportunity to be able to shake the foundations and make the world tremble. What she got was an old man who knows what he wants but doesn’t have a clue about how to approach it, much less make a living with it. I dunno. At the end of the day, every day, I think to myself that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The days slip through my fingers like sand, while I sit here and ponder the possibilities, that someday, possibly, somehow, maybe, if the conditions are right, I just might, potentially, do … something.
I gotta change up.

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