A Holiday Thought That May Help The Whole Year

Note: this was originally posted on GuitArchitecture but I think the message is still valid.

If web traffic is any indicator, I should be writing more about guitar shops in Vietnam, 8 string guitars (and pickups) and Philip Glass arpeggios which comprise the top 3 Google searches for my guitArchitecture blog.  (With absolutely no disrespect to Mr. Glass,  I never would have dreamed that there are thousands of people in the world actively trying to find out about “Philip Glass arpeggio”s.  Hopefully that makes someone’s day better!)

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But  since I don’t work with Google ads for ad revenue, I get to post on whatever interests me and while the personal motivation /psychology of guitar playing, tangential music business and music making observational posts get substantially fewer hits – they seem to be the ones that affect some people more.

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I’ve talked before about the need for a thick skin if you’re going to be an artist and how having a strong opinion could result in people reacting strongly to it as well.  While that’s an observation I still stand behind, I feel I should temper that advice with another suggestion that may serve you well.

Forgive people (including yourself) and

try to empathize with them.

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These things are actually related.  The more you see where someone else is coming from, the less likely you are to judge them harshly. This doesn’t mean forgetting, or letting people do hurtful things to you without consequence –  it just means letting go and moving on.  If this sounds counter-intuitive, then you should consider doing this because it will serve you better in the long run.  As Carrie Fisher once said:

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“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

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Looking back at my own life I see much truth in this statement.  I think of the actions of other people I resented and I see a series of torches that I carried.  Each requiring an exhausting amount of energy and maintenance to keep burning.

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John Lydon once said, “Anger is an energy” and while I believe that there are things are worth fighting and things worth fighting for, I also recognize that you only have a finite amount of energy in life.  In my own life, I eventually had to ask myself the question, “do you really want to spend energy and time on resentment or do you want to spend it on making your life (or the lives of other people) better?”

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A friend of mine recently sent me a link of yet another video of Pat Metheny going off on Kenny G.  When I saw it, I thought about some of Pat’s earlier diatribes about Kenny and my reaction was the same this time as it was before.   I didn’t laugh or think that it’s cool but instead I thought that it’s sad Pat Metheny has to be so insecure about what he does that he has to attack another musician for doing what they want to do musically.  Because if you’re secure about what you do, you don’t need to attack other people.  It does less to debase Kenny G in the public eye and instead of makes Pat Metheny look like a bully. Think I’m wrong?  Consider these questions for a moment:

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Does going off on Kenny G  get Pat more fans?

Does it get him more album sales?

Does it get more people going to Pat Metheny shows? Or

Does it keep Kenny G’s name in the news?

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If Kenny G had a deliberate plan of making music he hated just to sell a million copies of it then perhaps I could understand the rancor but I believe that Kenny  is playing music he wants to play just like Pat Metheny is.  It’s not something I dig, so it’s not something I buy or listen to so and (like many people I suspect) I don’t think about Kenny G until I stumble across another video of Pat going off on him.  If Pat empathized with that sentiment he might be less resentful of what Kenny G is doing (and would look a little less ridiculous).  Some jazz purists might not think that Pat looks ridiculous, but in support of my argument I ask only one question:

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Of all the ills in the world, is going off on Kenny G really the best you can do?

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Again, this is just my $.02 but don’t waste energy on people and things you dislike.  Instead, take that energy and invest it in making things better.  It’s something I’m still working on for myself.  Perhaps it will be helpful to you.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

-SC

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