Snowbound, looking down, drifting all around, white and falling. Cold wind blowing, can't see but the two feet in front of me. One foot in front of the other, heavy, falling down, incomplete, melting as I move, freezing as I stand. Snowbound, looking up, drifting all around, white and falling. Deep, deep, snow, one foot in front of the other, one step more. My shoulder aches, my head aches, my soul sings to the music flooding my ears. The job will be done.
Five days a week, for five years early on, I participated in the ritual of the working man. My paper route; a time of solitude and a time of learning. "How many pages today?" was the foremost question as I approached the daily drop of newspapers. The number of pages determined the workload, determined the weight on my shoulders, and determined the pain. The cassette in my Walkman determined the pleasure. It always got me through.
Delivering newspapers in the dead of a Minnesota Winter was a perfect crash course in preparing me for the hard lessons and sweet rewards of working as an independent artist. Today, as I decompress from the end of a relatively major project - organizing, and performing at, the MN Guitar Society Acoustic Guitarathon - I observe the snow drifts piled up outside my window. I am revisiting the paper route in search of the focus needed to move forward with the next round of projects. Getting unstuck and getting on to the next round of work can be overwhelming. I am feeling snowbound as the projects keep drifting. Just figuring out where to begin is a challenge, but, it is best, to simply begin; beginning with this blog entry.
Walking along all of those early formative years I found strength in solitude. I was getting a taste of the long and lonely work of writing. It is an odd rhythm. A slow, step-by-step pace where progress is often barely perceptible. Yet, you have to keep moving forward to get the job done. Self-discipline and self-reliance is all you have as you face the inevitable obstacles of inclement weather, overstuffed papers, late papers, lost papers, incomplete ideas, and the occasional warm blast of inspiration; from the Dentist office on the corner. Just enough to set up your next move. It was a process of adaption. It was also an exercise in repetition and dealing with the sameness of day-to-day routine, even when I don't feel like it. Finding the necessary optimism is key. And where did I find the optimism? In the music. Under the headphones. The music always got me through.
And of course there is the sweet reward of hard labor paying huge dividends: the euphoria accompanying a solid day's work and feeling productive, the more tangible money (for the papers) and the even more direct music (for all), that hopefully will inspire another young laborer, learning some hard lessons of his own, trudging through the snow, delivering his papers, writing his songs, his soul singing to the music.
Blog entry complete. On to the next project. But first, the headphones...
"A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no
unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no
unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." - William Strunk
"...and music should contain no unnecessary notes." - Me, and that guy in Amadeus