Sometime many weeks ago, your dad had an interesting day. Early in the afternoon, your grandmother whisked everyone away to one of her beach houses (yes, on a Monday). After dinner, i hitched with your Uncle Pom back up the hill and proceeded to run off to the Manor at Camp John Hay for my usual Monday night jam with the Fusion Band. Was late. But better late than not there at all.
Good thing i caught up. People from the lifestyle section of the Inquirer (a big, big newspaper in these times). They chatted up the band (the real members of the band. Namely: Vocalist Pia Santayana Trinidad, Saxman Joanie Abubo, Bassist Egai Buning, Pianist Teddy Liberato, and fellow Sting-fanatic multi-talented singer-guitarist Ric Maniquis. There are other guys in the band. But the ones i mentioned were present that night. Your dad just jams along like a ten-year old being allowed to shoot hoops in an NBA court from time to time), and discovered many of us only played music on the side. And right after i did a rendition of "Let Me In" by Mike Francis, one of the ladies hollered: "quit your day jobs! Compliments hardly get sweeter than that. :)
Speaking of jamming along, another guy who jammed along is a kid named Daryl Ladioray, who played tenor saxophone.
Daryl's a nice simple kid who was referred to me by my good friend and erstwhile bandmate Caloy dela Fuente. He chatted up Caloy through the Sax Society of the Philippines Facebook page, asking about how to make his sound "sexy" or "sweet" or some such. Finding out Daryl was from Baguio City, Caloy promptly hooked us up.
After hearing the kid blow, i correctly guessed he was a marching band player. So after a couple of unqualified so-called "lessons," i taught him to bend notes and make his sax not just sing, but "speak." Unqualified, because quite frankly, my technical proficiency in playing the saxophone was the rough equivalent of some loser who just because he could whip up scrambled eggs, then proceeds to call himself a chef.
Daryl sounds much much better now. But i honestly doubt i had that much to do with it. Especially when he sounds so much better than i do at this point.
So over a couple of vodka tonics, Daryl said that there are times when he feels inadequate when he finds himself listening to sax players his age who are playing much better than him. So i asked him with a smile: "can you imagine how i feel when i listen to how much better you are now than i ever was?"
Then i told him that i personally have no one else but myself to blame for that. And that i do feel left behind, yes. But i was okay with it. After all, he has spent many of his waking hours playing his horn and playing with other people. He did not have to worry about having to distribute his time between being a dad, being a husband, manning a store, managing an advertising office, designing stuff, and Heaven knows how many other crazy things i dabbled in. But i chose to do all those. And if the price for having experienced and tried all those things was still sucking at playing saxophone after twenty one whole years from when i started, then so be it.
I just have to reconcile myself with the thought that if i still want to become as good as i hope to be, then i either have to give up so many other things in my life or still keep at it, but it will definitely take longer than most. (As if twenty one years at this point still wasn't long enough. Heh heh... But who's counting, right?)
Most (or least) importantly, i was not competing with anyone. And, i told Daryl, i did not think he was either. Life is a journey, not a race. It's much too short to waste looking behind or ahead of you all the time.
Life is too beautiful and too much fun to live it as a contest. So don't.
As you tread along the pathway of life, walk... Look around you and enjoy the sights, the sounds, the smell of the breeze and all those other Hallmark card thingies... Skip a bit, if there are puddles along the way. Run sometimes. But only for brief periods, if and when you have to catch a better view of a sunset or a fading rainbow. Trot, if you find yourself joyful. Dance, if you hear music.
Live. Don't compete, because it should be all about how you choose live your life. And not how your life compares with others.'
And no, all the above is not my excuse for being a mediocre horn player (at best). Although i still am. But i'll get better yet. Maybe i'll even play at your weddings, if you'll let me, right? :)
Daryl, however, sounds great now.
'catch you later.