Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Taking One's Self Seriously

At some point, I became aware that people don't take things as seriously as I do. Taking everything seriously never stopped me from being a complete clown, but, I have always taken what I do seriously. As a kid, I remember being baffled by people who bragged about "not taking themselves too seriously." If one doesn't take one's self --one's self -- seriously, what does he take seriously? I used to think.

Music, for instance...

I've watched my musical friends fall away...the ones who were musicians in high school, who smile fondly back at those days and sort of see me as a quaint reminder of the past because, as one former schoolmate put it when he ran across me at a gig, "[I] still do this nonsense." Most of them gave it up when they realized that people weren't really impressed that they walked around with drum sticks in their pockets of guitars strung across their backs. Some of them just went down different life paths.

I also have friends who kept doing the music thing, but only as a sort of casual diversion. They play for their kids; they sit with the acoustic on the back porch; they play for themselves -- which is great. To me, that is a sincere loyalty to the greatest art.

Then, there are the guys I work with: still willing to work hard; stay up late; load the car up; unload the car; practice all week; play their hearts out for three hours a night and then go back to their day job and their houses and kids and keep working hard. These are the guys who need music as an ongoing past of their lives, no matter how much it complicates things -- the guys who never got to the point where they thought that playing in a band is something one should "outgrow." In short: they still do it and they mean it.

...and they take music itself just as seriously as I do. But, for some reason, my perspective hasn't changed since my teenaged days, when I used to dream about being a film composer or a conductor or a stadium-selling-out songwriter. I still pursue music on all of these levels; with the same intensity of purpose where the art is concerned. The only difference is, I know none of those outward successes are going to happen now -- life has taken different turns. You'd think that would make me pull back a little. But I still write music very few will listen to; I still study the composition and orchestration of Ravel; I still blow fifty dollars per week on classical guitar lessons; I still take on projects, like my current one (a concerto for drum set and orchestra -- no, that is not a joke) that anyone in his right mind would only take on with some external -- possibly monetary -- motivation.

I just have to, even if nothing comes out of it but having done it. I take my music very seriously. I take myself seriously. There. I've said it. I don't see it as a sign of maturity to move on from the things I loved as a kid nor to keep doing them "tongue-in-cheek."

And I'm a little proud that the kid I was was no idiot -- he knew what was important and he's still taking himself seriously, even though not doing so is far cooler, apparently.

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