A walk along the creek always does me good, getting close to water. I’m not much of a swimmer, not really a beach person. Just get me next to the water, though, and I’m content.
It reminds me of 2010, when I was getting ready to leave New York City. I had time to bike around to various parks on the water front, up and down Brooklyn. I remember my heart was troubled around that time, but the rivers helped me navigate. The East River heard a bunch of drama and never judged me for it.
Today, a small creek was enough. Just a casual stroll before lunch, in the cold, but it worked. Time in nature isn’t just there for the troubling times, but for the upswings, too.
I met Ed Gieda back in the 90s when playing shows. He was up in Wilkes-Barre, I was in the Poconos. We played in bands (he was in Bedford, I was in The Unmarked Cars), so we ran into each other on occasion.
Fast forward a few decades. We reconnected via running. Ran into each other in Philadelphia here and there. It was sweet. I followed him on Instagram, and was always struck by his passion for movement and growth.
Then he stopped posting. I had no idea what happened.
A month or so later I ran into him at a coffee shop, and casually asked “what’s up?! Haven’t seen you on Instagram lately!”
On June 18th when my wife was taken from this physical plane, the devastation & annihilation of virtually everything I knew & loved reduced me to smoldering rubble. I was literally stripped. The language which I speak lacks words that can adequately convey the agony in which I suffered.
From Ed’s Instagram
He told me this and my heart sank. I mean, this isn’t about me of course, but all those years of shows, of randomly running into each other, and the sweetness and the carefree nature of it all just came to halt.
Ed’s back on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ebgiii/), documenting his running adventures, processing the grief, sharing his story. I’m sharing here because maybe you’re not on Instagram, and would like to follow along.
Maybe it’s because of my emotional reaction to the new Star Wars (I loved it), or the quiet time with work right now, but thinking about making music as intensified. And I think part of it has to do with… legacy.
Part of “my story” is both my parents were gigging musicians when I was growing up. They both played in bands, my grandparents played music, my uncles (my one uncle was in a band that self-released a record in the early 80s).
So thinking about my mom’s passing in 2017, and how the world will never hear her sing again. Oh, how I wish I had recordings of her. My dad is still playing, mostly jazz guitar, into this 70s. He’s got thousands of original compositions, though none of them are recorded.
It’s like I’ve pushed down that part of me, like I’m “just” a computer guy now, who also runs a bit. And while the energy required to also work on music is slim, I know it’s bubbling up. Something I can’t keep running from.
I grew up around musicians, and eventually became a musician when in high school. I was surrounded by friends who played music, and grunge was exploding, so it was easy to maintain momentum in that world.
These days, I work in music, everyday. I earn a living from it. But I don’t make it, and I’ve been sad about it. Like a loss.
I think part of it is that I feel that in order to make music is needs to follow the formula that I’ve known since I was a teenager: make music, play shows, record an album, repeat forever.
And while I know there’s so many other avenues for music, I’ve been hesitant to really dive in. Mostly because it’s the unknown.
Of course, running has been a major part of my life the past few years, which requires a bit of energy and time. But lately the itch of music making has crept back into my thoughts.
The best piece of advice my dad ever gave me was that you start learning to drive after you pass your test. To contrive that to serve my point: your software can only reach its potential when it’s live. You are not your users, so don’t pretend you know what they want/need. Give them the best thing you can make, then let them tell you how to do it better.
Schedule time to be around the things you enjoy, or else your schedule will get filled with everything else. That other stuff isn’t bad – it pays the bills, most likely! But you gotta put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else.
If I’m only in react mode, checking things off a to-do list all morning, into the afternoon, there’s no room for magic. No wonder. No dreaming.
The dreaming is the work. It’s where the great things bloom, and become bigger than ourselves.
I love this so much, on how “just be positive” isn’t a complete strategy.
Exorbitant positive thinking is not the way that most people have solved issues. I’m more of a fan of being pragmatic. You hope for the best, but you work for what’s real. But a lot of people just hope for the best without working and that decreases your motivation because your brain thinks you’ve gotten done what it is that you’re constantly yearning to do. You have to envision things going positively but also envision the roadblocks that may be ahead—then you can mentally prepare yourself for how you are going to respond to that.
Visualize the successes, and the failures, the let downs, and how you’ll bounce back. Apart from that, it’s taking a damn second to even visualize anything, without me looking at my phone, watching a video, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram which is, oddly enough, where I discovered Joe.
All this to say If you’re going to make books, you’ll need to embrace rejection or at least get used to it. Everyone goes through it. Neither your first book nor your tenth are immune. Rejection in publishing is relentless, but then out of nowhere someone gets what you’re trying to do and when you least expect it… bam, you’ve got a book.
Christopher Silas Neal
I feel like you could replace books with a lot of things, notably JOBS, and it’d still work. I recently got work from out of the blue, when I least expected it.
This aligns with James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits.” It’s not about saying “I can’t smoke,” it’s about “I am a person who doesn’t smoke.” Building systems, from the basic beliefs and creating new habits, is core, not just the white-knuckled facade of “willpower.”
It’s easier for me these days to avoid mindlessly snacking on junk food because of a belief. I no longer buy bags of Oreo’s or chips at the grocery store because I am a runner. That’s not to say I don’t snack, or that runners CAN’T eat those things, but I have a bad habit of buying those things then eating the whole bag in a day.
So my plan to not devour a bag of Oreo’s in a day is not WILLPOWER.
It’s belief, identity. Those things keep me from putting those items in my grocery cart nine times out of 10.
Met up with an old friend for lunch recently. We met via our faith, more or less, something we’ve since walked away from. We’ve been through some low points and – at least for now – we’re seeing some good stuff.
The bad times don’t last forever, and dammit, we just enjoy the good stuff when it’s front of us.
“And hey, is everything perfect right now? Nope.”
So much isn’t perfect, but we can work with it. And that’s what we’ll keep doing.