I have been gigging more lately. More often, and in more configurations. Even with all this healthy exploration into the different sides of my musicality, I am plagued. Plagued, it seems, by self doubt, the killer of so many good and even great pursuits!
Why, after 30 years of performing would I begin, at long last, to be haunted by thoughts like these? These thoughts can come at the strangest of times, but most often while I am performing. I’ll be playing some gig, usually in a more difficult setting, crappy sound, noisy bar, less than interested (or engaged) audience, you dream if the distraction or detraction, I’ve experienced it or have a similar experience to relate to it. Anyhow, For some reason my brain will seize say, on a couple having a conversation, and seemingly out of my control, I’ll fill in the blanks of what I am sure their conversation is about. I tell my kids, my coworkers, spouse anyone who will listen, the same thing all the time. I need to listen to my own advice. People, I turns out generally, could give a hoot about you and what your issues are. Often even when what you do (or are doing) could (or does) have great impact directly on them, they still just are not programmed to care about you! People are likely so involved in their own ‘stuff’ to even be bothered with more than a cursory glance in your direction, let alone a thought about you (or your music). Even armed with this knowledge, I’ll fill in the blanks, usually assuming the worst, with derogatory comments about my performance. Silly and small minded yes, but the truth.
I remind myself that I perform because I am compelled to. Music completes me. Music is part of my structure, of my being. I perform not because I have a plan to to take over the world, or get my music to every corner, to get rich. No that will not happen in my lifetime, and that is ok. I perform because performing feels like the proper conclusion (or more correctly a continuation of a work in progress) of the exercise. If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it . . .
I work hard to chase away the demon that is self doubt. Every interaction is sacred. Every performance, a slice of time, a gift offered and received. And, it turns out to my great surprise, every so often there is someone who is touched or helped in some simple perfect way, by the exploration of my structure that I organize into the sounds I call my music. That for me are some of the treasured moments of this life. I am ever thankful and grateful for them.