I am of the faith that there are ditches on both sides of any road, and the way that runs between optimism and pessimism is no different. It seems to me that we, humans, tend to react to awareness that we’ve gone too far in one direction by taking the other direction as a sort of absolute truth, and then going too far in that. In fact, just as an aside, I think this is what the term sophomoric really refers to. The sophomore takes the enlightenment of the freshman year too far, mistaking the corrective for the solution. Anyway, I’ve been keeping tabs on my excesses of optimism and pessimism, reminding myself to remember the middle way.
Take last night, for example. Played at the open mic at Jenna’s Breezeway in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It was another sweet local scene, and I was struck again by the hidden blessing brought by my planning this trip so poorly. Those people keeping up with this story – and I suspect I am in reality the only one – will know that my original plan was to cross the country playing house concerts. A fine plan, if, that is, you actually go through the practical process of enacting it. Not having actually done that in any reasonably timely fashion, the station stops shifted to open mics. Financially, this complicates things a great deal, as it’s hard to make much of anything at all at open mics – let alone enough to stay on the road.
On the other hand, though, it is not only a pleasure but a sort of spiritual sustenance to dip into a series of local scenes, and to be welcomed again and again into communities of people coming together to make music. So once again, I am reminded of that line by Jackson Browne from The Pretender
Caught between the longing for love
and the struggle for the legal tender
I still don’t know how to make it somewhat sustainable; but it’s a sweet experience.
As to optimism and pessimism, last night I played four songs and sold five CD’s. That’s 8 in two open mics here in Cocoa Beach, to pretty sparse crowds. The response has been so positive that it’s easy for me to become overly optimistic and spend half of the money I just made on food and drink. Then, recognizing just how paltry a sum I’ve got relative to my actual expenses, it’s easy to become pessimistic about the whole enterprise.
So, anyway, I’m keeping away from the ditches and focusing on sketching out the steps ahead. Open mics we hope to hit over the next week or so:
Saturday, April 22: feature slot at Juice & Java in Cocoa Beach, around 8:30pm
Monday, April 24: Abe’s on Lincoln in Savannah, GA
Tuesday, April 25: Deep South, Raleigh, NC
Wednesday, April 26: Abbey Road Tavern and Grill, Raleigh, NC