Last Friday, I visited the open mic night at the Tractorgrease Cafe down on the Chilliwack River Road. It was a good night. I played my first two songs from my New Year's resolution to write a song a week. They seemed to go over well; I got some good feedback.
I happened to sit down next to a party of three who had shown up to Tractorgrease for the first time. We got to talking pretty easily. The most outgoing of the bunch had the gift of the gab and told stories about his past, his good business dealings, his satisfied life, and his aspirations for the future. It was nice to hear a bunch of stories from someone who seemed so confident about their values and place in the world.
He talked about money. He described various accomplishments and said, "Most people don't know what serenity you can find when you stop worrying about money. I hope you find that sort of serenity yourself." And I agreed that I'd like to have that sort of serenity.
I totally get it. I worry about money. I think about money a lot. Too much.
To me, there's a money spectrum of sorts. On the one end, there's the reality that money is just a human construct that has no real bearing on our inner lives; if a meteor hit the earth and vaporized everything, the next society wouldn't naturally evolve a money-based system. There are almost always ways to gather enough money to get by, no matter what challenges there might be in the world.
On the other end, money is a reality that has real consequences in our society. Although it's not worth worrying about, it's also such an integral aspect of our lives that we need to take it into consideration. And sometimes, oftentimes, we have to do things we don't really want to do in order to get some of the money necessary to do the things we actually want to do.
Back to the cafe last Friday: this is all Captain Obvious stuff, but it seemed like this guy next to me was advocating for the one side of the spectrum: don't worry about money; breaking free from the shackles of money brings "solace" (his words). Simultaneously, he described a lifestyle well beyond my ability in any way: lavishing loved ones with gifts, owning a boat, and various hedonistic pleasures.
So it seems like, at least in this case, if you have enough money... you don't have to worry so much about money.
I'd like to think I don't worry as much about money as I used to, and that might be the case. I've kinda' settled for my lot in life these days, considering that I've topped-out on my pay scale for this position. Apart from incremental salary increases over the next few years, the only ways I can make a few extra bucks here and there are through side hustles of sorts. I can handle that. And I'll be OK as long as I can generally hold myself together and keep my job. And perhaps a good, consistent job would be the best way to be kind to future-self anyhow.
But I'm going to keep my eye out for those ways that I can build a better income for myself. I'm admittedly jealous/envious of people who can be a little more free with the stuff. Not envious enough to take a big risk at the moment, but enough to keep an eye on the horizon.
ON ANOTHER NOTE: A couple days ago, Facebook brought it to my attention that it was my 3rd anniversary of playing at the Tractorgrease Cafe. Here's a clip from that little set:
Last night I came in a close 1st place at the karaoke competition at the pub across the street.
I feel really fortunate to have won, particularly since I had to buy a new car battery yesterday in order to make sure I could start my car when I go to visit my kids in Smithers in a couple weeks. The old battery kept dying a little too often for me to trust that the car would start in -15°C weather.
Usually, at karaoke, I try not to ever double-up on songs; it's a fun challenge for myself to always try to track down something new. Buying the battery, however, pushed me to try to make sure that I chose a crowd pleaser. I realized that, instead of choosing some new, obscure song like I normally do, I should choose a familiar, upbeat, short, instrumental solo-free song with a cold open and close, in my vocal range and already memorized: Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" fit the bill. And I milked it, walking around the stage, mixing up my vocal intensity, and playing with the runs a little. And all my deliberation... well... paid off.
I know karaoke isn't necessarily musically expressive, but it has certainly helped me rebuild some of my confidence in performing. Between singing covers at karaoke and playing covers at the restaurant, I'm starting to enjoy playing and singing music again. It's helped me keep my voice in shape and study a little about how an audience works. This has been good, especially since I had declared a couple years ago that I didn't want to play solo anymore after a few consecutive botched performances. It's good to feel like I'm in the groove a bit.
I still don't have the confidence to play my own songs. But I feel like I'll be able to start writing again soon, if I'm able to get a break long enough to mellow out and do it. And maybe then I'll have the confidence to put my own music out there into the world.
Until then, I'll keep playing covers at the restaurant and singing karaoke here and there. It's not what I want to do, but it's certainly a few steps forward.
Last night I played a live show at Echo Island Pub in Harrison Hot Springs. I didn't get any photos taken, which is a shame because it was my first full-length solo show since 2010 or so. It generally went well. Wanna' hear part of it?
Yeah, it's pretty rough around the edges, and perhaps deep into the image. However, I think it happens to sound pretty good for someone who's pretty severely out of practice.
Here's the only photo I got, which I took not long after I'd started packing up.
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