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  • Writer's pictureBrian Martin

Happy Trails

Feb 13,2020:

For most all of my adult life I’ve had the type of employment that was gauged by test scores. The requirement to meet or exceed a certain standard in order to maintain my working license as calculated by quality assurance exams in various formats. As a result, I’ve come to appreciate a certain kind of satisfaction that comes with attaining or exceeding that so-called standard, not unlike stepping on that metaphorical scale and seeing the needle reside on the positive side of the target weight.

Getting that type of objective feedback can be somewhat empowering. Like winning a race or striking out an important batter at a critical time in the game. The stats can be uplifting and often times I would happily hang my hat on the graphs and charts, but they don’t always tell the true story. Of course, in the kind of work I did before retirement that didn’t matter. Hitting the target weight did, but that’s all changed now.

Creativity runs by its own set of standards, which isn’t necessarily ruled by test scores and ERA’s (earned run average, it’s a baseball thing), but that doesn’t mean however that there isn’t judgement (self-imposed or otherwise). It’s just that it comes at you from a different perspective and brings with it a boat load of self-doubt and uncertainty. Doubt always seems to have a way of shoehorning itself into the equation.

My audition up at Capilano University the other day would be a prime example. I had submitted for the part of triplets in a short film for which I showed up well prepared, performed all of my lines off book, brought in props to differentiate between the brothers, and even altered some of the characteristics according to the directors input, but like my instructors and even my agent will tell me, I may never know why I didn’t get the part, and more importantly, get used to it. Therein lies the beast of self-loathing.

Fortunately, the classes I’m undertaking are designed to prepare and arm me with the unusual tools (weapons, if you will) required to battle that vein of insecurity, but still, sometimes the cynicism of uncertainty will leach its way into the cracks like water on a rainy day, but I’m foraging ahead, bucket in hand, nonetheless.

I heard a quote that I believe was from a TV character played by David Carradine that aired in the 70’s called Kung Fu. He said, “When in doubt, ride the horse in the direction that it is going”. So, picture a timeworn grey mare with Big Skinny at the reins, slowly clip clopping along some rarely used dusty trail with a six-string strapped to my back. I’m a Lo Plains Drifter heading in some unknown direction, but at least I am fortified with a small satchel of words.

“Words? What words? Well…these ones. Yes, No, and Maybe. The verbal arsenal that’s bestowed those (such as myself) tasked to sit comfortably in a chair opposite ones partner, stare directly into their eyes without blinking (or at least, as little as possible), and randomly utter back and forth these three simple little utterances, one at a time in no particular order. Your partner says Yes, you respond No, or perhaps Maybe, but don’t repeat the same word twice in a row. Be firm, be coy, be real and keep constant eye contact for at least a minimum of ten minutes. “Silly little actor games”, I know. But try it. Go ahead.

Now, enter the old grey mare once again. No stranger to the introspective road that I’m on, but don’t you think it would be nice if the animal would share their knowledge with me. In the meantime, my guitar will come in handy as I get another opportunity to play with a couple of musicians that I’ve connected with over the last few days. It’s good to change the routine, learn some new songs, and test the murky waters of “bandom” (It’s a word) one more time. Yes, I’ve been down this road before, so in this instance I’m going to take it slow and easy. I know, sounds like a WhiteSnake song, but I think Coverdale had something else in mind. Happy trails my friends.

Until next time.

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