Saturday, May 09, 2009

Time for a Music Break

Here it is, the Saturday before Mother's Day already. Where is the time going? Man, when you step off the hamster wheel for even a moment it feels like you'll never catch up. But if you don't get off that crazy thing, there won't be any you left to do the catching up.

It's hard nowadays because if you're lucky enough to have a job or two you don't want to appear as though you're not grateful for that. But the flip side is trying to stay human. Some days I feel like I don't work hard enough, and others I look back on the last few months and ask myself where I've gone.

But then there are moments like this one, early on the weekend, my daughter finishing up her breakfast and talking about what happened at school, like the duck that just had 12 babies. That's a lot of babies, and fortunately that duck has a bunch of devoted third graders to help out.

At some point this week I told friends that my anxiety about the economy is tied to the fact that while on paper I technically should be doing fine, it's the knowledge, or fear, that at any moment, more than half of what is on paper will dry up in a hurry. That's what makes this era different. And it's an era I've been living in for six months. To think that I know people who have been out of work for more than a YEAR -- how in the world are they coping? It didn't occur to me to acknowledge this very real fear and how it colors my perception in approaching most every decision that involves any money. And yet, there never have been any guarantees, for anyone, regardless. Does the knowledge I have now of the way things are, or the fact that I've experienced partial job loss, mean that those possibilities weren't there before? Of course not. Like most people I ambled through my days doing a good job and hoping that the stability of my industry would hold up. It didn't. And it may get worse before it gets better. Most of my days are spent with my colleagues trying to figure out how to prevent that.

I still worry about the near future, but I'm trying to take a deep breath. I did my resume last weekend, and it reminded me that I'm really pretty good at what I do. I can probably do some of the kinds of things I do for different kinds of organizations, too. Or I can try something new. The other shoe may still be out there somewhere; we are likely to scale back our summer plans to accommodate my unease. At the same time we drink in the beauty of now, and try to take advantage of the ways we can enjoy all that's in front of us.

As spring wears on and brings longer, warmer days to my part of Ohio, it's hard for even the grownups to stay focused. So it is that I give myself permission to live just a little. This weekend that means a trip to the Kent Stage to see one of American music's best-loved voices of .... well, I'm not sure he has a genre. John Cowan can sing just about anything he puts his mind to. You can sample some of his fine singing here on his MySpace. John is best known to bluegrass folks as the bass player for New Grass Revival (the Sam Bush-Bela Fleck-Pat Flynn operation that gave this music a kick in the grass). The first time I saw John was actually while he was standing in line two or three folks behind us at the Southwest counter a few years back in Nashville. The first time I heard John sing was a life-changing experience. He just put it all out there, nothing to hide really, which is what singing does. It exposes you. Having sung for many years, I think that knowing you have to make that connection through the instrument that is in you physically makes you feel a little more vulnerable, but if you don't over come that and put it all forward to deliver the song, you might as well not be up there at all. I wish I had the opportunities to sing now that I did when I was younger and didn't understand that as much. I just took it for the stage jitters.

I hope if you're in the area that you'll get on out to the Stage tonight to see John. Check out his tour schedule and catch him when he's coming through your town. He's got such a rich history, some of it fairly loaded, but he is devoted almost entirely to what he does musically.

There are so many tunes to choose from, I decided to go with one folks will recognize. I hope you enjoy John’s version of this goofy love song, Angel Eyes.

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