Wednesday, July 30, 2014


It's interesting how we get wrapped up in our own problems so much that we completely lose perspective on the truth. Many of us are living a dream life, and yet we spend tons of energy whining about problems which are so insignificant. It's not wrong to want more than you have, and it's not wrong to have ambitions and aspirations. However, lack of awareness of how good we have it prevents us from enjoying our brief time on earth, and it's also kind of insulting to those out there who wished they had our problems instead of theirs.

First of all, just in terms of basic lifestyle, I'm better off than I was 5 years ago. I have a steady job, and a pretty nice house. I have HEALTH INSURANCE! WHICH INCLUDES DENTAL! I live in a safe neighborhood, and the weather here is pretty mild compared to the East Coast. I have a loving family; my son is really thriving, as long as he gets his dinosaurs and Godzilla toys. We have access to all types of food and digital entertainment at the drop of a hat(well, we usually have to go somewhere for food. Delivery service in Portland isn't like New York). I'm not rich by any means, but where I live now kind of beats the tiny apartments in which I lived in New York in the 90's, not to mention the tiny row house in Columbia, Maryland, where I grew up.

My father's ancestors were Irish. If I was born 100 years earlier(1869), I'd probably be living in a tenement in New York, probably in the Five Points neighborhood. I'd likely be working on the docks, or in a sweatshop, or who knows, maybe I'd be in a gang. If I was born 50 years earlier, I might have joined the Army and fought in World War II. If I had been born 20 years earlier, I might have been sent to Vietnam. One thing I'll say about looking at recent history is that thank heaven that I didn't have to go to war. I hope my son never has to go to war.

Sure, I would love to have more gigs and I would love to see jazz musicians get better opportunities. I would love to be more recognized than I currently am for my artistic work. However, we jazz musicians need to put it all in perspective. Let's face it, even though conventional wisdom is saying our generation has it worse than previous generations, we have it pretty darn good.

My summer resolution is to stop whining so much about what's missing. I need to acknowledge what's great about my life. It doesn't mean I'll lose my ambition, or that I will stop thinking of ways to move forward. It just means that I will retain some balance in my view. There are people in other parts of the world suffering tremendously; they wished they had my problems. Think about them the next time you complain about how long the line is at Por Que No, or complain about something trivial. We don't even know how lucky we are.

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