Today marks day 18 of running everyday. I chose to go about it by running just one mile at first. That one mile is still kind of a pain in the ass, but I’m getting it more easily and slowly adding more distance to it.
My next goal is to run for 15 minutes solid (I have read, though, that it takes approximately 40 minutes of cardio to really get the high dose of chemicals needed to reach superpower levels of optimism, joy, and the accompanying productivity, etc. but HEY it’s a start).
So how do I feel? Well, it seems that my relationship with damn-near everything in my life has a lot to do with my health. People say that kind of shit all the time, but I’m starting to really live the truth in it.
In particular, I am becoming better able to distinguish the act of playing the saxophone from the traumas I have associated with it and accept it as a valuable gift that I have cultivated for myself. It’s the hard-earned fruit of an 18-year practice of a craft that makes me sound magical to anybody who cares to listen and I am starting to feel a great sense of accomplishment surrounding it.
I mean, if you handed a random person a saxophone and said, “Hey bro, play me a song,” they wouldn’t know what to do—they probably wouldn’t even be able to figure out how to assemble it!
So there’s that.
I’ve also started playing jazz standards again and not just limiting myself jazzy pop covers (though I still do the pop covers ‘cause they’re really fun, make me money, and seriously get jazz style through to average listeners).
The other day I was putting my horn together on the platform, getting ready to hop on a train when there was an announcement that the trains were being stalled/delayed af.
While I sat there, I observed a discussion between two forces in my mind. One said, “Screw this let’s just go home,” and the other one said, “Hey man, what can we do to make the most of this time while the train is stalled? You may as well try playing something, a warm-up or something.”
I fortunately listened to the latter and started playing. I found myself toying around with a concert D-flat Maj7 arpeggio. I thought, “What is that? It’s so familiar,” and then I realized: “ISFAHAN! Remember when you used to play that tune? Let’s try it. “
Now, I had forgotten some of the chords, but could remember the melody and I just started picking it out by ear as I sat on my amp waiting. I was like, “whoa that song is cool!” Then I pulled up the ol’ iReal chord sheet and gave it a look-see.
The chords aren’t ones that I play over on the pop tunes, but I could hear how they resolve and relate once I started outlining them and remembered how to play over them. Though some of my chops on the more extended chords were rusty, it came flooding back to me pretty swiftly. And so there I was, playing “Isfahan” like it ain’t no thing, and then some of the people standing around gave me money.
I was like, “I’ll be damned: this harmonically advanced Strayhorn tune just made me $3 from some random strangers.”
So, in the time that I’ve started getting my physical—cardiovascular in particular—health together, I’m starting to really dig jazz standards, and I’ve designated one hour of jazz standard playing ahead of my days of contemporary pop-tune playing. It’s helping me loosen up in my sax playing and, while it doesn’t bring as much money from the public audience, it is very fulfilling on a personal level, almost like a martial art or something.
I’m also feeling like I don’t want a job anymore. I really think I would be a terrible employee since I am so free-spirited, and besides, I’d rather BE a boss rather than answer to one. While playing on the trains is cool and all, it isn’t really an asset; it’s a job where I have to show up and work long and hard if I want to make money.
I have my sights set on more entrepreneurial things. In particular, I’d like to once again be creating instructional videos and materials and build some sort of online business around my musical nerdiness.
They say numbers don’t lie, and my YouTube sax lessons put up bigger numbers than anything else I’ve ever created so it makes sense to me to create a business around teaching music online, particularly around my fetishy interest in Charlie Parker’s articulation and style.
If I had an online course on it, I could offer it for $100 bucks or something and see if I get any takers, and use my YouTube channel as a way to give out samples of what people may get from the course. I get new subscribers everyday as it is, and I also usually collect an email address or two from people downloading my transcriptions online so I already have a small pool of people who have expressed interest in what I have to offer.
Offering an online course would beat the hell out of working in an office for a paycheck, I would still be exercising the creative skills that I desire in a job (playing music, writing, design, video editing, marketing, advertising), and I wouldn’t have some boss micromanaging me or telling me I’m doing it wrong or whatever.
So it seems, as long as I take care of my physical health, my mental health will remain stable and my outlook largely positive. I’m not sure why it’s taken me 30 years to figure this shit out, but hey, better late than never am I right?
By the way, I’m only one song away from meeting my goal of 13 songs for a singer-songwriter album. I have been working on it a little bit every night before bed and I’m liking how it’s coming together. I’ve also found that reviewing my lyrics in my head while I run is a great way to take my mind off of all my body’s bitching. More on that and the Pretty Mutant (@pmutantmusic) project later.
I’m feeling good about stuff. I’m feeling awesome. See ya later.