I’ve always been an ambitious dreamer.
Whether it was jamming with my older brother on pots and pans when I was 3, sitting behind an 80’s drumset 20 times the size of me when I was 5, picking up my first violin at 9, or starting saxophone at 10 I wanted to be the guy. I wanted to be admired for my talent. This stretched to all aspects of my life.
When I was 5, playing t-ball, I wasn’t shy about giving a strategic lecture about why you shouldn’t hit the ball to the left side of the infield with a man on 1st and 2nd with two outs. Despite being the smallest kid in my class, and one of the slowest, I would start my spring training every February when just enough snow had melted at the very back of my back yard to leave a strip where I could practice throwing a baseball into my fence. I would visualize the game I loved so much, about how I would grow, get faster, become stronger. I practiced day in and day out for that dream. I had no natural talent, but I was a student of the game. When the other kids grew taller, could run faster, and throw harder I was stuck behind (my growth spurt would come after my baseball career was all but over), I still put my best effort forward. I knew I would never be an all-star, or hit a home run, but I showed up early every practice, every game because I loved everything about baseball.
While dreaming about my baseball career I was also playing the aforementioned instruments with the same fervor. I didn’t have time for friends or a social life. Yes, it was because I was awkward, and would run home every day under the threat of being chased down and beaten by unscrupulous bullies who didn’t like my hair, or my glasses, or that I raised my hand in class, or that I often befriended those who were for some reason even more hated than me…
Unlike baseball, music was a completely personal and internal emotional therapy for me. With baseball I got to dream of being bigger, stronger, faster. With music I got to experience love, hate, joy and sorrow. I got to feel everything I tried to hide from those so quick to make fun of me. Learning Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on that 1/2 size violin made me dream of being a concertmaster of a symphony in a grand orchestra hall. I practiced to be better, and faster (baseball has it’s hold), but also expressive, and emotional.
When I first heard the saxophone, care of my older brother’s Jr. High Jazz Band, I was instantly in love with this beautiful instrument and expressive voice. The less I talked in real life, the fewer friends I had, the more I turned to the purest sense of feeling I could find. Music. Saxophone meant jazz! It meant Cannonball Adderly’s Somethin’ Else! It meant everything.
I was an ambitious dreamer. Unlike baseball, I found my natural talent in playing whatever instrument found it’s way under my fingers. I was never the “technical” best, but I wanted it more than anyone else. I didn’t just want to master the technique, I wanted to play notes that spoke the words I dared not. The words I couldn’t find. The sentiments beyond my vision.
It’s a dream I’m still pursuing, and fight for every day.