I (like many people I'm sure) have always identified myself by what I like to do in my spare time. When I was young, that was music. Okay, before that it was BMX racing, but that was short lived. I really liked playing music. I practiced all the time. I took lessons every week. I went to concerts all the time. I was a musician.
Granted, there was a year or so when I was a motorhead. My friend and I pulled the motor out of my '76 Camero and wedged it into a fully customized '73 Vega. Fun stuff indeed. That is until I wrecked the car and could only afford to replace it with an '82 Chevette. Then it was back to music.
Music was it for me too. I parked cars during the day and practiced with my band every night. We even moved out to L.A. to try to make it, but that didn't work out so well. Even so, I played all over South Jersey and a couple of the bands I played in had a pretty decent following.
Come about 28 or 29, I started to realize that I wasn't going to be the rock star I'd anticipated. That, in addition to a major character flaw that kept me from wanting to starve for my art, made me cut my hair and go to school for computer programming.
But that was okay. I had a knack for it. That became my new identity. I got a good job as a programmer and even spent my weekends writing code. I tried to keep up with music a little, but without the promise of superstardome, my heart wasn't in it. I even bought a mountainbike and tried to make that my off time thing, but one nasty encounter with a tree put an end to that. No, I was a computer guy. That was my thing. And it was good because people were willing to pay me good money to do my thing.
So I fell in love and had kids the way people are wont to do, and my thing helped us a great deal along the way. I even sold my bass guitars and amps. Didn't need them anymore. But after several years of being paid to do my thing, I didn't like doing it anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still did it because it paid the bills, but I began looking for something else to identify with.
Then I walked into a Harley dealer. And that was it! I was a biker. I loved riding the bike. I rode in the winter, I rode in the rain, I rode all of the time. I did all of my own work on the bike, tearing it down and putting it back together. I was the real deal. Except I wasn't. I didn't really fit in. I tried to do the poker runs and toy runs and such, but these weren't really my peeps. I preferred to ride my own ride. The problem was, it was a very solitary thing. I liked riding with Tammy, but the bike was too small for riding any real distances for the both of us. Plus, money was getting tight and friends were getting in accidents and it was time to sell the bike.
In an effort to find a new me, I tried woodworking. I built a few things and they turned out ok, but I didn't really enjoy it. It was a chore.
Then I tried mountainbiking again. Epic fail.
So, it was back to music for me. I restocked my bass arsenal and even started playing upright bass for a fresh start. And I've been trying to make this my identity for the last five years. The problem is, I'm not sure it fits anymore. I feel lost in it. I can't find myself in it.
A big part of the problem for me is style. I listen to several different styles of music and like them all: rock (hard, heavy, classic), jazz (bebop, hard bop, swing) and even country (old school stuff mostly). I just don't know where to go. Or more accurately, I find it highly unlikely that I can go where I'd like.
I don't want to play classic rock covers. I don't find anything wrong with it, it's just not something I've ever enjoyed doing and can't see myself being happy with it now. And while I certainly like listening to the heavy stuff, I don't see that working out very well for this aging body. Loud music makes my head hurt and my back can't lift Marshall stacks anymore.
Country has never really been on the table. I like to listen to it, but I don't own cowboy boots or a cowboy hat and probably never will.
Jazz is nice. Listening to it makes my feet move and has, on occasion, brought me nearer to tears than anything I've heard since "On My Own" from Les Miserables. But I can't play it. In order to play believable jazz, it needs to be in your soul. You need to eat, sleep and be jazz. And you need to do so early on because it's a lot to absorb. I've only been dancing around its edges for 5 years or so.
I have recently replaced the motorcycle, but I only ride it when it's really nice out. I don't plan on working on this one either. I'm past that stage now.
People have told me (in the most positive way) to just shut up and play. But I can't. I'm envious of those who can. That's never been me. I need to have a direction. A purpose. An identity. And until I find that, I'll remain lost.