Steve Cook's soul, song, and sweat.

Shinybass journal entry 12-29-11

Just a few thoughts to close the year…

I’m going to say it now.  My Christmas tree is down.  It’s not a dislike for the holiday – I still have the wreath on the door and the scent of toasted marshmallows wafting through the air via plug-in air fresheners.  I simply had a tree that was Griswoldian in in size and filled the front of my living room.  Diesel’s ‘spot’ was in front of that window, and for the past month he’s been showing his puppy displeasure for losing his sunning spot by chewing my lip balm.  I hear you, big guy.  The tree gave us our house back by finding its way back into the storage containers, and yes, I will get it to an accessible place for next year’s triumphant yuletide return.

2011 is almost behind us, and it has seen its share of ups and downs.  If you want a recap on the news events that make you say ‘Oh yeah! THAT happened this year’, then tune in somewhere else.  I could give a Flying Fortress about the ‘reality’ stars or ‘real’ shows that have besieged our airwaves, and as our commitment to human communication wanes, I hope that the coming year will find a resurgence in letter writing, a disappearance of texting while driving, and more hugs and less harsh words.  And the world will live as one…

My year end recap makes me think of a couple of events in my life.  As I try and find something on TV besides a show about finding treasure in a barn and reselling it to someone at a ridiculous markup, (then -next time slot same channel) only to have that person take it to a certain pawnshop in Vegas and sell it at a loss, I wonder how much of life we are really taking away from this.  It seemed that I Love Lucy and Seinfied (which ironically was a show about nothing) had true writing and craft.  We’re not really quoting the folks from ‘Reality housewives’, these days are we?  (And if you are, we need to talk…) As I slip away from the point (yet again), I feel that the real lessons are learned in person, and those are what we should be taking with us.  Which means more doing and less sitting.

The two lessons I speak of are polar opposites, yet both very important.  The first happened in a bit of boredom, when I was reading a thread on a bass player forum.  I really like the community there, and I don’t know what prompted me to search, but I remember it was on the bus and probably in the middle of nowhere.  I was looking through a thread called the ‘Meanest bass player you ever met?’, and after scrolling around a few stories, I came across my name.  I was stunned.  The person who wrote the post said they met me a few years back in my King Konga days, and that I was pretty much a jerk to him.  I don’t remember the interaction, and don’t think I would have been all-out rude, but at the same time, it could have been a bad day, long sound check, lapse of arrogance, whatever, so I may have been short with him, and he may not have heard the responses he was looking for when he introduced himself.  Either way, that post stuck with me.  In reading that, I realized a few things.  First, you can’t please everyone.  If I had given him a bass that day, he might have said ‘yeah, but it wasn’t a red one’.  I really do try to engage just about everyone I meet, and if some days it’s shorter or not as in depth as you may want, then so be it.  The other thing I learned is that you never know what kind of impact you will have on someone, even in if you only speak with them briefly.  I obviously made a (negative) impact on him, and again, through a better awareness of my words, I hope that doesn’t happen again.

Which leads me to my next lesson : Not really knowing how something will stick with a person.  Growing up, my little brother (the smarter one of he and I) would read a lot.  We would just about devour anything we could get our hands on, and remember a lot of that information today.  There was a new trend about 1990 or so of those little ‘pocket’ books with inspirational passages, or little lessons for life.  Like the “Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten’ sort of thing.  One thing that I took away from those books was to always watch a loved one drive off.  And I do.  In the rain, in the freezing cold, I do.  One thing he learned was to always fill the gas tank when using someone’s car.  This is a good one as well.

I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but for some reason, I was away, and my car was at home.  Upon hearing that my little brother used my car, I tore into him up one side and down the other.  I think I was a little more high-strung then, but either way, I was livid.  He was apologetic, and pleading his case as to why, but I wouldn’t have it.  I got in the car, and realized, to my surprise, that he had filled the tank with gas.  Here is a kid who is working fast food and making minimum wage who borrows my car (for only a few miles, really), and fills the damn tank.  Well, at this point, I feel about as big as a speck of dust.  I was embarrassed, shamed, and learned a sad lesson in the art of overreacting.  We went to see my family this past week for Christmas, and I used his car to get to the mall.  I filled it up for him without even thinking about it, even though it was a 20-mile round trip.  And I will do so until I die.

You may already engage in both of these practices, along with a score of others.  And that’s great.  In taking yoga, I learned the value and importance of breathing.  That’s why we are told to count to ten when angry – breathe it out.  A few deep breaths could have probably saved a lot of lives, property damage and jail time.  Respond, don’t react.

So in the new year, think about some things you would like to change about yourself that don’t cost anything, and really just take a little bit of forethought.  Words can impact forever, and actions can move mountains.  Choose your words with discretion and your actions with others in mind.  You may find your karma bank overflowing for years to come.  And the investment will reap dividends for years to come.  I mean, when my brother filled the tank, it was probably about $8-9!

Happy New Year, everyone!  See you on the road!


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