It’s no secret. We’re all getting older, but I seem to have a problem admitting it.
I‘ve always considered myself an energetic, productive, vigorous and responsible Type-A person. I strive for perfection and get anxious when things don’t go as planned. You’d think that over the course of my 67-year existence I’ve learned to relax and let go.
Throughout my life, playing in a band has been a steady source of immense pride and enjoyment. The companionship, thrill of the stage and achieving Maslow’s “self-actualizaion” during performance is like cocaine (without the nasty side-effects). I consider gigging my fountain-of-youth, and friends swear I have a Dorian Gray portrait hidden in my basement.
Playing in a successful band is a lot of work. We are completely self-contained at most gigs, meaning we load, transport, set up, tear down and unload our own gear, much of which I own and carry. With travel time, a wedding gig can hit 12 hours of continuous effort; my Apple Watch sometimes clocks 20,000 steps with over 4,000 move calories. There’s a significant stress component too; a lot can go wrong, including venue issues (no access, no space, no power, no outdoor covering, no parking), bridezillas, nightmare load-ins/outs, clueless wedding coordinators, traffic jams, inedible or nonexistent vendor meals, rain, snow and lost bandmates. I marvel when it all comes together.
I’m not complaining. Those 12 hours are a privilege and a blessing. I get to see parts of Colorado most people don’t. I work with awesome bandmates who are smart, incredibly talented, devoted, witty and ROFL hilarious. I meet clients who are ready to party while I perform music - the love of my life.
Lately, my seemingly bottomless energy well has gotten shallower. At around hour 10.5 of my 12-hour gig, there’s a creeping awareness of my soon-to-be empty energy tank, like the yellow low-fuel indicator on my car’s dashboard. If driving, I’d slow down, turn off the air conditioning, lights and radio to make it to the next gas station. My body reacts similarly - “non-essential” systems get less energy until the next rest stop. The difference is that I easily accept my car is low on gas, but I can’t accept the same about my body; my brain says go - my body says no.
I’m not alone. Every human who makes it to my age has already, or eventually will, experience the same thing. While it’s somewhat comforting this harsh reality is universal (misery loves company), the challenge is coming to terms with my limitations. I can either learn to let go with acceptance and grace, or endure nature’s 2x4 across my forehead until I get it.