Optimism vs. Cynicism


steve150It’s hard to believe that 2013 is already a month old. Time seems to be marching faster than a high school band with diarrhea. This year was supposed to be different from last year, wasn’t it? Isn’t that what we promised on New Year’s Day after the hangover wore off?

But nothing has changed, has it? I’m closing in on 41, I still don’t have my great Canadian novel written, I still know basic chords on the guitar and I still get the butterflies when I hear a Jason Mraz song on the radio.

On the plus side, I still have all of my hair, which is more than I can say about a number of unfortunate souls my age. Sadly though, my once svelte physique is softening and becoming ever more doughy in consistency. So what I gain in follicle superiority, I quickly lose in ‘flabbiosity’.

I made the choice to start exercising more at home, so I bought some Power Yoga DVD’s (just in case there was any misconception that I was manly). I haven’t lost any weight despite the fact that I watch them every night while I enjoy a few beers and some chips.

I’ve been asked to play some wedding ceremonies lately too. But again, that’s not a change from last year. It’s always the same – an excited bride and groom meet up with me, we go over a list of songs that they would like to hear. We agree on the order of the songs, then it’s a matter of practice, performance, and packing up.

Valentine’s Day is coming up. Every year it’s the same thing…buy the card, buy the chocolates, buy the diamonds, arrange for the ‘surprise’ trip to the Cayman Islands until finally I have to say “Stop buying me all of these things, Cindy Crawford, I’m married!”

So as you can tell, nothing much new has happened this year.

I’m bored, and nothing ever changes.

The preceding paragraphs have been brought to you by “cynicism”. Learn to know it well, as it is the enemy of happiness and in guitar playing.

You see, I believe that life is all about perspective. And how you choose to view things determines how successful you’ll be. And how much fun you’ll have along the way.

It’s true that I have been asked to play some wedding ceremonies – but the real story is that although the ceremonies may be largely the same, each experience is unique, and I learn a lot from each one.

Most recently, I played at a wedding for a dear friend who wanted a fun song at the end of her wedding. She repeatedly shot down my suggestion (who wouldn’t want to walk down the aisle to Killing In The Name Of?) and decided to walk down to “Brighter than the Sun” by Colbie Callait. I had never played this one before, and it gave me the opportunity to learn to play and sing something new.

(For anyone curious, I capoed on the 5th and played open E to A to E to B.)

The great thing about playing someone down the aisle at the end of the wedding is that even if you suck, they’re leaving anyway so who cares, right? You just have to sound marginally better than tin cans being dragged behind a Chevy, and you’re doing ok!

Fortunately, I did sound marginally better.

At least that’s what my Mom said. Thanks Mom.

So as you can tell, 2013 – although seemingly the same as any other year – is anything but. New opportunities, new people to meet and make music with, and new songs to learn & write!

I hear of people who often complain about losing their creativity, losing their “edge”. Basically they just lose the ability to look at things through new eyes, and develop a cynicism that impedes their growth. So the next time you start to play the same song that you’ve played a jillion times before (and are getting bored with), try changing it up a little. Look at it differently. It’s not ‘just a wedding’. It’s a chance to learn a new song. It’s not ‘just a song’ rather a chance for you to put your own spin on an existing piece of music. It’s not ‘just Cindy Crawford’; it’s a restraining order in the making.

Life is perspective. Change your perspective, change your life.

This holds true for playing too. If you change your approach to guitar, you’ll learn new things. Study your history if you want to change the future – not to copy the past, but to view some of the past licks and riffs through today’s eyes (and ears).

My glass is half full. My column is half on time this month. My playing is half not-crap.

See? I’m feeling better already.

Now I’m off to apply to the optimist club.

But I’m not getting my hopes up.

They’ll never take me.


To find out more about Steve, click HERE


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