It has been considerable time since my last post. There were many contributing factors to me being silent, and some of them personal, so I don’t really feel inclined to discuss the whys of my absence, but to bring you back up to date on what has been happening during that time.
To start with, my drumset and I have been relatively busy with Bad Habits. Not as busy as I’d prefer, but probably as busy as my damaged body can handle. (more on that later)
I was elected Registrar of Velo Cape Breton by acclamation at the last annual general meeting in November, but had to relinquish the position in January when it became clear to me that I had to much uncertainty to deal with and I felt I could not give the position the full attention it deserves. Paul Babin was recruited to replace me and he is doing a terrific job! Thank you Paul. Also, on the topic of Velo Cape Breton, I applied to serve and was accepted as an Ambassador as part of a new initiative by the Association. The Velo Cape Breton Ambassador Program came about as the result of a sum of money awarded by Doctors Nova Scotia known as the “Golden Apple Award.” Since cycling promotes a healthy, active lifestyle, DNS felt the mandate of VCB fell within the criterion of this award and our Ambassador program was born. The purpose of the Ambassadors, in part, is to promote safe, responsible cycling as a part of an active lifestyle; to teach other cyclists how to ride safely and responsibly; to assist visiting cyclists in finding accommodations, restaurants, repair shops and good places to ride; and to raise public awareness of cycling through public appearances and advocacy. The official launch date will probably be the Victoria Day weekend, but don’t be surprised if you see our distinctive jerseys and jackets on the road now.
Sticking with the cycling theme a bit longer, I am once again proud and honoured to be organizing the Ride of Silence for Cape Breton Island. This event is one of International stature, occurring in hundreds of locations in several countries world-wide. This year is the third for Cape Breton and this year we are riding in Glace Bay, on some streets that are sometimes challenging for cyclists. The purpose of the ride is again, to raise the awareness of the general public of cyclists and our right to use the road, but primarily to pay tribute to riders who have been killed or injured in collisions with motor vehicles. If you are a cyclist, and believe in this cause, please join us! There is no registration fee, no prizes and no sponsors. All that is required is a bicycle in good working order and a helmet.
I have been slowly upgrading and remodelling my drumset. I had thought last year that having a smaller Bass Drum would not only be a novel idea, but would take up less room in the Jeep and onstage. I converted a sixteen by sixteen inch Floor Tom using first a Danmar cradle and then a set of legs and a lifting device. I found that although it took less space in the Jeep, it didn’t really save that much onstage since its depth is the same as the larger Bass Drum, and my cymbal stands are still positioned in the same places as they always are. There were some other issues that arose as well, and so to simplify my life, I abandoned that idea, and went back to the larger diameter BD. A new carrying bag for my hardware changed the layout in the Jeep, and I suddenly find myself with a bit more room; or shall I say a re-definition of the room that is there. I might be able to actually add to my kit, but first I must decide if the set-up/tear-down time will increase any by doing so. After all, I am somewhat enjoying the shorter timeframes needed to set up and tear down lately. What once took over an hour to do, can now be done in about half an hour, and I love that! If adding a piece to the kit will still allow the time to remain within a minute of what it now is, I will consider it.
Certainly a factor is my body. I damaged a disc in my back in October of 2010, and after sitting at the kit for a night of playing, the pain is sometimes excruciating. I never seem to be totally pain-free these days, even when my activity level doesn’t add to that pain. Actually, activity is good for such situations, but due to circumstances beyond my control, (those same circumstances that have prevented me from writing for the last four months) I did not get the exercise I needed all winter and the subsequent results have made life quite uncomfortable as well as busy. I only got out snowshoeing once this winter and that is a sad statement to make.
I had been teaching Tai Chi for a number of months, but that too has come to an end. This time last year I was teaching two classes a week for the Pain Clinic at the hospital. I had been contacted to teach sufferers of chronic pain, mostly victims of car accidents and people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis. The classes led me to seek a place where I could continue their classes so they would be able to benefit from Tai Chi on a long term basis. Sadly, after the second week, I was teaching only two or three of the people I had taught a number of years ago and none of the pain patients. Promotional efforts went without results and so I made the decision to stop teaching
Finally, through it all, there has been gain and loss, Joy and Sorrow, and more than a little confusion and introspection. I continue to re-connect with people I knew years ago through Facebook and Twitter, and occasionally in person. While I seem to value my “alone” time, I also relish the time I spend with friends. An hour in a coffee shop, or hanging out together when the band is on a break, is special to me and I truly value it. I am finding that many appreciate my friendship as well, although my insecurities have me wondering why. I do know that as we age, and start to witness the loss of loved ones and heroes, we value our own lives all the more. The recent passing of one of my drumming heroes, Levon Helm of The Band has made me angrier and more cynical about the purpose of life. Why are we here? What is it all about? What good does it do? I have these thoughts sometimes daily, and yet, when a friend of mine looses a loved one, as has happened several times this winter, my heart cries for their pain, and I understand in part that we are here to share, and to comfort and to feel compassion.