Not exactly a word you’d associate with a summer outing.
Having just wrapped up our first “major concert” as a band, it was high time for us to be grabbing some rest after almost a week of non-stop practice. It was too good to be true, I thought to myself. As it turns out, it was.
I’m a firm believer of seasons in life. As much as it is important to have downtime to reflect and synthesize all that’s going on around, too much rest makes you, well, a bum, in short. Sometimes, the season calls for putting one’s foot on the gas pedal and not letting up. Sometimes the season calls for rolling one’s sleeves up and getting to work. As such, being swamped by a to-do list of things stretching a bit longer than my usual liking is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it may be a challenge to push myself harder and forget about slacking off.
Best compliment of the night: “Dude. nice tone. very punchy without losing articulation”
Strangest compliment of the night: “Uh. you were playing with them, right?” Yeah. Uh. I was holding my guitar for a reason I think?
Without much ado, I’d like to air my to-do list for the general public to see. Not for anyone to go “oh man, that’s a lot of things to do”, but mainly for me to get myself giddy reading about how my social life will end for the next month or so (which is not a bad thing, in actuality):
Played for our company’s summer outing - As mentioned above, done. In the books. Finis. The ice cream’s in the freezer and it’s freezing like ice cream does. Two grueling weeks (and one all-nighter before the big day) of practice later, and Centrifugal Motion (our band’s unofficial name) can now resume daily life as office-dwelling yuppies.
One lesson picked up over our “after party” of McRonald fries, burgers and drinks was how I’ve overlooked small talk and simple laughs with friends. Last I checked, Christ himself was willing to look stupid in the eyes of the world by associating with people most “holy” folks would never care to be in the same room with. Not that I’m saying that my friends are mass murderers, swindlers or anything (at least, not to my knowledge). Far from it. But if I am to show them a good example of how a Christ-follower lives his life, I’d be better off genuinely caring for them as people for a start instead of burying them under a litany of Scripture.
Second important lesson: All nighter’s don’t feel like all-nighters once you’re playing through one of these. Or two. Two would be better.
Accepted a new writing assignment for a magazine – Still in progress. Scary to think how my mentor is trusting me to interview some of the featured guests by myself and finish the articles by the first week of May. But she’s my mentor, and she probably sees something in me I don’t. Challenge willingly and ably accepted.
Stuff in the summer that have everything to do with kids, recital pieces and 80′s Hair Metal – In progress, but slowly approaching. Having given my “uhuh, yeah, sure” to my friend, I am now partially in charge of some kids and their upcoming music school recital somewhere in the middle of May. If we’re doing song hits across the 1960′s-2000′s, I’m calling the 80′s. Because, it’s the 80′s.
And no, it is not above me to go dressed as one of these guys.
My twice-a-month “journalistic” responsibility – In progress indefinitely. Wracking my brain for topics to write about (and subjecting my seatmates to hearing me argue with myself) bi-weekly has been a normalcy that I’ve welcomed. I’m challenged by it, but have always savored the challenge. To paraphrase the Parable of the Talents, I’m embracing my Christian responsibility to multiply my one “gosh I think I’m good at this” God-given gift and do my very best to bless others with it.
Major Mid-Year Matter - One challenge that a group of friends and I took to do our part marketing this project over and above our scope of influence. For now, that is all I can say. Watch out for updates sooner rather than later.
Rest? Now? Too swamped for that. Maybe when one of my arms fall off, or when I start slurring my speech.
After almost a month of resting from playing (does that happen? resting from having fun? is that possible? you tell me), I recently got back into the act of “Bingo” Sunday playing (which is a joke we use sometimes in the team for playing all three Sunday services). Fitting, I guess that we just so happened to be playing on Easter Sunday, which is the Christian equivalent of God powerbombing Death and Sin through a table).
If ever I was remotely corny with my illustration, this video dispels all notion of that.
- After what seemed like a million years, we played Mighty to Save. I can’t remember why I liked the song: was it the guitar parts (which gives me all the excuses in the world to use my Wah Pedal) or the message that the song was conveying. I’m scared to death that thought even crossed my mind.
- Fortunately the sermon for that week reminded me how much God loved me enough to powerbomb Death and Sin through a table despite my obsession with my Wah pedal.
- Finished playing the last set simply grateful for the opportunity to be making music and giving my talents back and not caring if I’d never make a cent doing so. And before you think that means I played flawlessly, no. For All You’ve Done is in the Key of E. I played in F#. Major. Cool fact of the day: There is no F# Major in the key of E. Ouch.
- Lest anyone think this is all Easter Sunday related, no. I’ve begun to grow to love my job. And workmates. It’s not where I want to be 10 years into the future, and I’ve got a lot of things on my to-do list before I even come close to achieving my dream. But for now? I’m blessed to be where I am. Straight up.
- Interestingly enough, this week starts a series of “occupied” weeks where it’s play, work, play and more play-at-work without much downtime. Still blessed.
I hope everyone had a blessed Easter. That God chose to die for us, and rose again to make sure we have hope? Overwhelming. Like powerbombing sin….
I guess that’s enough wrestling illustrations for now. And these are the Dudley Boyz, by the way. Bubba Ray and D-Von. The best tag team to ever use tables. Now I shall keep quiet.
It’s a terribly hard thing to come to grips with. Especially when it involves, to paraphrase Scripture, looking at yourself in the mirror and telling yourself that your semi-goatee looks bad and needs to be shaved. And then shaving it (this was me, a few days ago, for those thinking this analogy is moot and irrelevant). Facial hair aside it’s also one of the loneliest words mainly because, apart from acknowledging our doing certain things right and figuring how to routinely incorporate those “right” habits, it means admitting to ourselves that *gasp* we were wrong and could have handled certain situations better. Which can get awkward, like looking at yourself in a mirror and….never mind.
- Taking baby steps in my preach-the-gospel-use-words-when-necessary approach with my friends. I have “those” days every now and then, but I’m trying. Slow and steady wins the race. Somewhat good.
- Falling in love with writing again. Good.
- Super excited about a writing gig coming up this May (which will be posted on this blog sooner rather than later). Good.
- Been slacking off my guitar practice. Bad.
- After two “appetizers”, I’ve finally sunk my literary teeth into a rich, meaty book (rich and meaty are also words that can be used to describe this man-made wonder, but I digress). Good, good, good.
- Can you believe I haven’t bought or wanted to buy any guitar-related items (apart from a set of strings earlier this month)? Good, definitely.
- After typing the above, I then watched this video. Hello again, Mr. Green-Eyed monster. Bad, definitely.
- Caught myself having too many “I look like I don’t care what you think but really totally do” moments with a certain member of the female species while trying to casually-but-actually-not be around her. Bad, bad, bad. I should seriously grow up, or get a job. Wait, I already have a job. Leaves me with only one option. Confounding crumb cakes, Batman.
- Realized I’ve been saying this less and less:
And realizing that I should get back into it. Bad.
- And finally: realizing that the music of heaven, sung by angels, will sound strangely like a guitar through a cranked up amplifier:
Or is it just me again? Confounding crumb cakes, Batman.
That seemed to be the question on everyone’s mind after wrapping up our unofficial-official first gig in the office. There we were, a group of six yuppies, still holding onto our instruments and waiting for the adrenaline in our veins to drop off. Why not? It had been a hectic schedule, and we had all enjoyed it:
- We had practiced every night for almost two weeks, plus a whole day practice on Saturday. Were there any complaints? If our fingers and vocal chords could talk, maybe.
-On top of preparing for this, a friend’s music school (that I volunteered to help out) had a demonstration Saturday, after our performance, for their summer classes. I, of course said yes. I mean, play while my schedule (and fingers) allow me to, right?
-I almost forgot to add the practices for our Sunday Services. And the fact that I like to use heavy gauged strings for both my guitars. If my fingers could talk, they’d be crying “Uncle”.
Seen in the picture: The Centrifugal Motion Band
Not seen in the picture: my fingers crying “Uncle, Auntie, Grandpa, Grandma.”
There we were, the joy of playing for pay almost at our fingertips. We had the musical firepower, the fire in our bellies, the Austin Powers-esque mojo that every successful band had to have. Or so I thought:
- Despite the performance being pretty good (people were dancing to the disco songs, which I assume is a good sign) there were a few technical hitches. Much of it had to do with the fact that we were playing our first session together. Most of those were because I was too busy sneaking “I’m-pretty-good-but-I-don’t-say-it” to one too many audience members instead of making eye contact with the band. Not one hour into our first gig and I have to be reminded that the goal for the night is to make music together, not pick up girls. Fantastic. I can be pretty dense sometimes.
- Not 24 hours after the performance, I’m pouting at my boss for giving me extra work. It’ll cut into our future band practices, I reason out. Convenient how I forgot I signed a contract for a day job (and not as a session guitarist) and should instead be happy that my boss thinks I’m doing well enough at said day job to be trusted with more responsibilities.
-My ears? After all the songs I had listened to, they were so tired they had problems registering whether I was hearing a D# diminished chord with a flatted 7 or whether it was my mom telling me to turn my music down. Would I survive that routine week-in, week-out? I shudder to think about that.
- My family happened to bump into an old elementary classmate of mine last Sunday. A classmate whom I was not particularly nice to during elementary time. More accurately, I had bullied the guy (whose only reason for being picked on was loving video games and being more emotional than the average male grade school student) during elementary time along with a group of “friends” I wanted to belong to. I may be overstretching , but if those elementary years had anything to do with how he looked like now, I wouldn’t be surprised. Or proud of myself.
I’d wish for this experience to have a good ending, but it doesn’t. This is one of the mental images I’ll bring before my God during Eternity when I tell Him “Thank you for grace, and undying love and faithfulness. But I really do not, have not and will never deserve it. But thank you.”
More than tiring my ears out, this image hit closer to my heart: whether it’s practicing with friends, gigging with friends, working where I’ve been placed, writing wherever I’ve been placed, my real “job” is to honor and carry well the name of Christianity wherever I go.
Do I still want to be a session musician? When I stop taking myself too seriously, maybe.
Like remembering that I am not the picture above.
At the place where I am (so far) gainfully employed, we had to “clearly define” our job and skill set. Pretty hard to do, even after almost 7 months of working there. I mean, really, there are only so many ways to fluff up saying “I make and edit Microsoft Excel files” before it goes overboard.
“I’m a data miner, son. I mine data. From Microsoft’s Office”
Which leads me to a different “job” description:
Background and other professional history: Family, educational, financial, social and any other -al background is unimportant. Inspiration comes from everywhere, from beautiful, afternoon sunsets to 10 minute bathroom breaks.
Skills required: an open mind and willing hands. 1/4 of the actual work is looking for ”light-bulb moments” from the things around you. The other 3/4 consists of finding the time and the words to articulate it.
Other non-work related activities: occasionally moonlights as a yuppie who found his way into the corporate world. The definition of moonlighting here is from “when the sun shines until the moon is lighting” which is roughly 8AM-6:30PM, Philippine time, Monday to Friday.
Hours on the job: varies with respect to available time after moonlighting. Can take as little as an hour or as long as long as the crack of dawn, when it’s almost time to moonlight again. Administered beatings and striking to the cranium area with solid objects (such as a wall) may help keep the hours low, but has yet to be proven . The art and science of trying to get people to ”get it” and not sound like a drunken, babbling mess is one that takes years and years to hone.
Salary and compensation: mostly nothing save for the fulfillment of knowing you wrote your heart out and put out a piece that was truly “you”. Can occasionally translate into actual, spendable compensation to reinforce that fulfilling feeling.
Exhibit A: Positive Reinforcement
Perks and fringe benefits: no holidays, no breaks, and no days off the job. Should the need arise, it will mean using up what little free time you would have had to rest, sleep and pet your dog. When you love what you’re doing, however, isn’t it enough to say you’re too busy having fun to take a break?
What would your non-corporate ”job” resume look like?
Among the highlights of my low-activity Saturday:
- Getting a haircut
- Drinking coffee
-Changing the strings of my guitar
-Drinking more coffee
-Getting to watch a full basketball game on TV
-Drinking even more coffee (my coffee mug is probably bitter right now. Because, you know, coffee is bitter, and bitter can also mean being mad at someone, and….never mind)
-Blogging. Again. Because blogging more than twice a week is my new way to change the writing game and attract new viewers quicker. I amaze myself sometimes.
My other plan to change the music game. More people will be concerned with what I’m playing with (good) than what notes I’m actually playing (even better).
- save for the string change, not touching my guitars at all today. Practice is good. It’s even recommended. But sometimes the best thing you can do is to take time off, listen and/or watch for things that will inspire you again, and then go back to practicing.
-exercise (I say this in the future, hopefully-I-get-off-the-bed-and-I-know-I-should tense. As much as I believe “to man is the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart”, my heart’s probably not in the right place if I’m choosing to spam Twitter with inspirational quote after inspirational quote while eating potato chips off my stomach over disciplining my body and maintaining its’ conditioning.)
What else will I do? In the immortal words of Porky Pig: “Th-th-th-tha-tha-tha-that’s all, folks!”
P.S – since I’m too lazy to edit my previous post and am posting a new one anyway….I’ve recently got a lot of props over blog posts and writings that, in all humility, I let flow and write spontaneously instead of feverishly googling for a more highfalutin way of saying “happy”. I guess, to paraphrase a friend, my most important lesson over the year of blogging is that, despite believing myself to be a decently good writer, I’m actually more of a pen in the hands of a Master writer. And that I should simply be grateful and overwhelmed to be dotting his “i”s, crossing his “t”s and ending his sentences with periods instead of trying to act nonchalantly cool while doing all of the above. It’s a wonderful, wonderful gift to worship him with; one that I know full well I’m not deserving of.
Nonchalantly cool: “I’m not trying reeeeall hard to look cool, bro. But hey, I am”
P.P.S – Stumbled on an old hymn entitled “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and immediately realized that it was a great move not to call that “Great is My Faithfulness”. As in me. My laundry list of head-scratchers includes the trivial (trying to act like a nonchalantly cool high-schooler in front of a certain cute workmate and failing miserably) and the this-could-potentially-be-serious (like channeling the dark side of the force during moments where I could’ve reacted like a Christ-follower should). But he’s still faithful and willing to watch me get over my mistakes, and there really is no shadow of turning with him. And that’s another thing I know full well I’m not deserving of.
“You’re playing your guitar again? What song are you practicing now?” – a friend of mine
“…Nothing. Just fiddling around” – me
“Nothing” is not a word I’ve come to associate with myself for the past month or so. But with no playtime in sight for the next week or so, and all deadlines met for the foreseeable future, I can finally say that these past few days have been restful for me.
Restful is loosely defined. For some, rest can mean going to the gym and sweating off the stress of a hard day’s work. For others, it’s a hearty, savored, “mmmmmthat’sgooood” meal after being on “budget eats” for longer than they can remember. For still others, it’s staring blankly into space while placing conscious thoughts inside their “nothing boxes” for a few hours or so (for what it’s worth, I fit nicely into that last group of people).
It’s also a time to collect and distill our thoughts (not two words immediately correlated with thinking, but it’s NOT a recipe for a new energy drink that I’m planning to sell the National Basketball Association. Hey, there’s a plan.). We rush through life at a billion miles per hour it’s pretty easy to let the right question slip our minds: what exactly did we learn? (trivia hint, it’s got nothing to do with Excel files, pie charts, three-letter acronyms and big words that we say without thinking just to make ourselves look smarter)
-that workmate complaining about a job he doesn’t like? Sometimes all he needs is a sympathetic ear for him to vent to. That will do him more good than an hour’s holier-than-thou sermon about “if a man does not work, he does not eat, so get off your lazy butt”.
-that despite dressing more business-esque and statuesque than the cleaning lady/guy, they probably do as much work, if not more, than us pimped-up business guys. It wouldn’t hurt to give them a smile, a “good morning” and open the door for them every once in a while (and lest anyone accuse me of being pretentious, I too have been guilty of forgetting to do that. Ouch. That’s my ego screaming at being bruised).
-that tongue lashing you got from your boss/supervisor/teacher/grand poo-bah? Take what you can for improvement’s sake and move on. No one ever died from a tongue lashing and neither should you. You’re stronger than that.
-that dream that seems impossible to reach? Feel like you’re in an academic/corporate treadmill to nowhere? There is no such thing as a “dream job” or “dream course” off the bat. Those are direct correlations of hard work and asking for God’s will in your life. And, oh, lots of self-discipline, like showing up to class or work when it’s sometimes “the right thing to do” instead of “fuuuuun”.
And sometimes, just sometimes, it’s good to be restful to just thank God for the chance to be alive. That kinda gets lost in the hustle and bustle of living, which is okay, because we’re forgetful humans, which means we just need to be reminded from time to time. Especially when we’re feeling like Bigfoot about to use our big feet to smash the alarm clock that just woke us up.
Sorry if it got heavy real quick, but I guess that’s the stuff I was able to distill from my few days of rest. But not to worry. Back to the nothing box I go. I might not even be able to finish this sentenc
Just kidding, of course. And if there’s any other thing that got rest this week, it’s my Number One, who spent about a month in a gig bag. And, wow, it’s my anniversary at WordPress. Amazing. Yep. Back to the box I go.