Glory Days

I was never a Bruce Springsteen fan. However, I continue to find the song “Glory Days” to be very relevant in a number of ways to a number of people, including myself.

For example, there’s the mysterious fairy-tale writer who keeps telling the same story over and over and over and over and….is very entertaining because, for some reason unknown to me, said writer actually believes in the credibility of his/her writing. Go figure.

Then there’s this guy I know. Don’t know him very well, but he entered my life as the product of decisions made by another member of my family. He’s a bit older than me, sports one helluva mullet-looking hairdo, and is so stuck in the past, and in such denial about it, that it’s actually funny.

In a very sad sort of way.

For example, he loves to drop names of “famous” people he hung out with back in the day, while simultaneously ragging on people who drop names. Hello? (Hey, guess what? I met Bob Barker in 1978. Aren’t you impressed? I know you are. Heh.) Evidently he was, and perhaps still is, a talented technician. He worked for about 20 years as a technician, says he was pulling in a six figure income, which is hard to do as a technician in these parts. The northeast corridor, we are NOT.  The problem: those glory days weren’t spent being a technician, they were spent in a commune, being an “artist”, basking in the glow of a very famous, now deceased, artist whose name he loves to drop while waxing poetic about how obnoxious name-droppers are.

Funny story: way back in the 90s there was a weekly summer concert series around here, every Wednesday at noon. Hubby and I both worked downtown and would meet at the park for lunch and whatever entertainment happened to show up. Sometimes it was great: Matt Kendrick. (If you’re from around here and know anything about the local jazz scene, then you know Matt.) Other times, well, not so much. One Wednesday we got a student from the local arts college. It was surreal, kinda beatnik. He would strum non-chords on an un-tuned guitar while reciting poetry that went something like this: “I am an art-TIST. I go to professional art SCHOOL. I am totally COOL, because I’m an art-TIST.” It was hilarious, great satire.

But I digress.

So, back to the future, here’s this guy, with a family, living on unemployment because the Lord says he’s really an artist, not a technician, going around saying stuff like “I’m so stoked about the gig tonight”. I’m telling you, Bob Barker NEVER said that! I had a chance to observe him practicing his art, and while I can’t work in his preferred medium, I can recognize talent. Or lack thereof, if you get my drift. And he gets a lot of sympathy from a lot of people because his talent isn’t recognized, dare I say, perhaps because it isn’t there? The problem is that there is no sympathy from the one person he’s really looking for sympathy from: dear old dad.

I sit back and observe this ongoing drama, and drama it most certainly is, and I wonder: if you’re a good technician, and you believe that God made you what you are, might it perhaps be true that God made you to be a GREAT TECHNICIAN? Just a thought.

But, what do I know? I’m just a frustrated artist who used to be a great technician, who is now neither one. Who is now, essentially, not much of anything. If Obamacare were fully implemented, I’d probably be on the short list for “end of life counseling” because hey, let’s face it, I’m not a contributing member of society. (In other words, I’m not contributing to the country’s revenue. That’s not 100% accurate because I am a tax-paying citizen, just not paying my fair share right now. Or is that, “I’m not doing my patriotic duty”? I forget what the proper verbiage is these days, and it’s always changing so who cares, right?)

As some character in one of my favorite movies EVER (If You Could See What I Hear) said: Well, who really gives a DAMN? (That was his way of saying “Wassup?”)

I wish I could say that the answer to that question is: me. I give a damn. I want to, I really do. For all its annoying politics, boring meetings, long hours, trying to do the impossible and sometimes succeeding, but mostly not, I miss being a technician. I was good. I was efficient. I could explain technical issues in non-technical terms to people who needed to hear technical issues explained in non-technical terms.  But, like the “late to the party pony”, my tack just got too heavy and now I’m a swayback pony, mostly good for being a companion pony to some other pony who needs a companion.

Lucky for me, I do have a companion pony. Actually, I have several companion ponies, but only one that lives in my pasture. (NO, no THAT kind of companion pony in someone else’s pasture…shame on you!) This week my pony learned that the workload at his barn is drying up, and some of the ponies have been sold, and unless something changes, he might be headed to the stockyard for auction as well.

So, where do we got from here? Can a swayback pony be rehabilitated? After you’ve been a dressage pony for 20 years, very precise, very controlled, able to change course at the tiniest signal from my rider, can I learn to be a western pony and sort of lope around? Sounds easy, but old habits are hard to break. Is it hard to teach a smart pony dumb tricks? Beats me, I’ve never tried it until now. But, if I take my observations of mullet-guy and apply them to myself, then it is more than likely true that God made me to be a technician too, not an artist. And if I could adapt to change before, than isn’t it possible that I can adapt again? I have to believe that if it weren’t possible, then the time and money I’m spending on retraining myself from dressage to western is a wasted effort.

I do know this: I don’t wanna grow a mullet and sit around musing about the good old days, before I was a technician myself, wishing I could go back and re-capture something I never really had to begin with: real talent. Skill, yes. Talent, not so much. I don’t want to be a mediocre artist who complains because my talent is not recognized. Who recognizes mediocre anyway?

But, oh how I miss being a mediocre artist as well as being a great technician.

And so, here I am, sporting my mullet and musing over the glory days that really weren’t so glorious after all.

Here’s to talent….two pieces that I played, with mediocrity, in recital–played here with genius:


What does it mean when you want to be, NEED to be, just mediocre at something? At ANYTHING?


3 responses to “Glory Days

  1. Talent is utterly and completely transferable. Unless you decide it isn’t. It is only the world that tells us we are a one trick pony. Dressage can be dressage for the sake of dressage or it can be dressage for the sake of fine tuning which can then be applied to all sorts of things.

  2. Dressage is the basis of all horsemanship. A lot of horsemen are ignorant of that but it is still a fact. A lot of dressage queens (and wannabe queens (which is fundamentally different than princesses)) don’t care how much they could benefit from other disciplines either. So it goes.

    Here’s what not to do: Don’t do what makes you sick. Do what makes you happy, and sing-y, and floaty. It won’t always (witness me in current job) but it will more than it won’t.

    But you might have to jump off some bridges to get there. And that is what is scary and that is what you use to try to convince yourself to do something that makes you sick.

    My personal opinion is that you’ve never really given the musician thing a shot . . . and it is a fine thing (IMO) to be a medium fish in a small pond with it . . . hmmm, the movie Country Strong where the REALLY GOOD cowboy singer says that the folks in the local bar like music just as much as the throngs in the stadiums and that’s where he can be and have a live because fame and love don’t exist in the same place. And I’m sure there is some way to be technician without the baggage that was so harmful. But you know life’s pathways aren’t really marked like the interstates.

    My writing does me good. My riding does me good. It doesn’t depend on someone else’s assessment.

  3. I relate with this very well. I worked in retail for 21 years and was injured on the job. It is so hard for me to adapt to being at home when I have worked all my life. The transition and financial aspect have been so hard. It takes two incomes these days and now we are down to one and barely making ends meet. I still am not use to being home day in day out and miss my working days but with my back I am very limited as to the things I can do anymore, What to do with myself and how to reinvent myself to be a new person that was once a productive member of society is so hard and really gets me down so bad. I see the toll it is taking on my husband and my baby girl because she wants to cheer next year and is already asking are we going to have the money for her to cheer. This breaks my heart because right now with my fate in the governments hand as to whether I am going to get my disability or not, I really can’t give her a definite answer. She so enjoys it and I am going to try my best to save some of our tax money for this depending how much we have left after paying bills. I just know that God takes care of our needs and I know he sees what is going on with my family and everyone elses and pray that he answers some prayers for all of our families.

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