At 39, a hope for courage

This is that time of the year where my human programming has me looking back at my life because I have grown another metaphorical ring. Another year down, another year to look up at the stars.

I shall take pause for the next few minutes to reflect on what happened, what didn't happen, and what might happen as the next 365 days unfold.

I am most interested at this moment in just being in this moment. I want to realize that I made it here. I made choices that carved out this existence I'm now in.

I want to make sure the choices that come in the next little while are the right ones. A lifetime has taught me to be more cautious, yet I still make poor decisions from time to time. I don't make others one quick enough.

This 39th year shall be one of paring back a little, and concentrating on what's most important to me. I want to find a pathway to being more courageous and more bold about the things that matter to me.

At the moment I am deciding to invest some time into myself and so I'm listening to a recording I made in July 2009 after I had moved back into my house. I'd been on a family vacation and had picked up a guitar for the first time in many years.

I got a guitar in high school, but I never really learned how to play. The whole guitar mystified me completely and utterly. My brother could pick up a guitar and play any song. I could not. I just liked trying to make interesting sounds.

I always wanted to be a singer in a band, but the opportunity never quite gelled. I moved to Arlington in 1998 to sing in a band, but I was terrible at learning songs. I just wanted to express myself in the moment, much the same way I do when I am writing.

So, when I picked up the guitar again while trying to get my life off the ground again three summers ago, I got the desire to want to express myself musically again. So, I used my audio recording equipment to begin capturing those moments when I played and sang, something I'd never been able to do before.

So, for three years now I've been recording myself. At first, this was almost entirely in my house. Living alone has its advantages, and I would play and record and record and play. This was just as much therapy for me as running.

But, when I began working in earnest at Court Square Tavern, I would occasionally bring my guitar in there, and I captured the feeling of me in that place. The recordings are more raw, with no effects, and without the advantage of the solid sound conveyed through my one good microphone.

Tonight, I am listening to the first of these recordings I made, where it's just me at the guitar, trying to figure out intuitively how plucking and strumming the strings in an attempt to create sounds over which I can let myself sing whatever is on my mind and in my heart.

And tonight, as I prepare another edit of it, I'm listening to me from three years ago, when certain decisions had not yet been made, and when I had not begun to really live my life again. I had not meant people who have become dear friends.

But listening now singing lyrics about not how to play guitar, I'm performing to an audience of me, because I'm far too petrified to put myself out there. This has been far too important to me. There are so many in-jokes and references that I'm not sure would ever make sense to anyone.

I've never been able to be a performer, directly. Sure, when I wait tables I like to make people laugh. And when I get a laugh from someone, I feel like I've won the lottery. I can perform when I'm on the radio telling people about what's going on.

Performing for the sake of performing, though, is something I've always been so shy of. I see other people who have gotten over this hump and are making a go of it. But in me, there's a voice that always tells me that it's a worthless pursuit. This voice comes in many flavors.

At 39, I would like that internal voice to go away. I would like to change it into an internal voice that is encouraging. Life is ticking.

I don't know if I'm any good to other people's ears, but I do know that I got through a tough time in my life by having the confidence by myself to commit time to learning an instrument in an attempt to sing songs.

I have so much fun when I'm in the zone, and I have myself recorded in those moments.

In life we have to create places where we can experience joy, turn sadness into understanding, and simply experience the world in ways that transcend the every day.

So, as I grow my next ring, I shall try to keep all of this in mind.

I had originally intended to post the recording from July 2009, but that's too much work right now. So, I'll post again the site where I occasionally get the courage to post things.

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