St.L Thoughts

Ask me anything   The sometimes random musings of a young musician

Music - An Emotional, Non-Editted Essay

Music has always been something special for me. Before I knew how to hold a guitar, or carry a tune, it was just an unknown fascination that caught my attention from time to time. Whether I was riding in the car with my parents, or playing one of the many video games that occupied my childhood, I can recall music being at the forefront of my attention. But it was when I got my first guitar at the age of 13 that music finally started to turn into something a little more… vital.

I had decided a few years earlier that I wanted a guitar, when my brother got one for Christmas and proceeded to let it sit in the corner not too long after. I can remember loosing focus on whatever was on the computer screen and turning my attention to that block of wood. I’d sneak a few strums on the strings, even though I didn’t know a chord to play. My grasp on music was almost non-existent, but there was something about that instrument that could just grab my attention for longer than it had any right to.

When I finally got my first guitar, I was ecstatic. I lived out the cliche of playing until my fingers were raw and bleeding. But it felt good to work myself to such an extreme…

I still bleed on my guitars once in a while, rubbing my skin thin until it can’t hold back the fluid anymore. Honestly, I can say I haven’t owned a guitar that, at one time or another, I haven’t bled on. To some extent, I think this means that from a legal standpoint I shouldn’t be selling them to other people.

But I know I’m not alone in this.

Any serious musician I know has bled for their craft. Whether it was just practicing so much that your body couldn’t take anymore, or it was just a mistake on their part (from a technical standpoint), we’ve all done it. Some might go as far as to call it a right of passage in the musical world.

For months now, like so many times before, I’ve been dipping in and out of a depression for reasons I still can’t quite figure out. Nothing has seemed to be able to really pull me out of my own head. It’s something I’ve lived with my entire life, but there are times where it can get a little worse than I’m ever happy to admit. And during all of this, I feel like I had almost forgotten music. 

I forgot

What it could do for me

Music, since that first guitar at 13, has been my release. It has been a way for me to express what I’m feeling without having to worry about how to phrase it. I don’t have to be concerned if I’m choosing the right words or not. I don’t have to worry if someone else is going to really understand what I’m trying to say. Even if they don’t, they can find their own meaning in the music that I’ve written over the years.

No fear

No judgement

Whether I offend somebody or not is never a concern when I let the emotion flow through the six metal wires I smash my fingers down on, over and over and over and over. Why? Because it’s me. It’s what would otherwise bubble up inside until it bursts, probably taking my sanity with it in the process.

Without it, I tend to get lost in my head with no way out. Every turn I take just seems to lead down a darker hallway. Without the music to guide me down the right path, I might as well be blind trying to navigate a maze. 

But recently, when I felt like all of the small things were beginning to build up inside again. When they had accumulated into a mass of negativity and despair, and I felt like I was just going to break down and start crying, I sat down and picked up my guitar…

It was different than the many times before, lately

It wasn’t a matter of practicing or trying to get better. Furthest from my mind was the thought of making progress in my technical ability as a musician. As important as that is to me, it can sometimes get in the way of why music has been so important to me. It can cloud why I even play music to begin with. Why it has stuck with me for so many years - longer than it take someone to finish medical school at this point.

I love it, dearly

Music had almost become a chore these past few months. I felt like I had to become better, now that I was trying to make a new start in this new music scene. I felt like I didn’t stand a chance in this new environment. Like everyone around me was making leaps and bounds and I was left to wallow in my little puddle of musicality. I had lost my way…

What dawned on me in those moments was that I was fine. The worries that I had no longer seemed insurmountable. Everything was within my grasp again, and it all made sense for the first time in a long time. If I had to call it anything outside of a eureka moment, I would have to go with the word enlightening. I was having fun again.

I was playing songs I had written, some of them years ago, and I was enjoying every second of it. There was no one to readily hear me, I wasn’t worried about trying to record something for everyone. I wasn’t worried about trying to be perfect in what I was doing. I wasn’t thinking about all the ways that I felt like I’d failed. I was just… playing.

If we are our own worst critics, then I finally have a bit of confidence in myself again as a musician. For the first time, in so long, I was proud of the way that I sounded. I am, by no means, the best at anything that I do in the realm of music. But I finally knew where I stood once again.

I may not be the best, but I know that I’m not the worst. And even if I was, at this point, I can at least smile when I pick up my guitar and sing. I can enjoy writing music again, and I’m finally able to let the ideas flow a bit more readily. I’m not concerned about the standards that others before me have set. I am no Bach…

No Beethoven

No Harrison

No Dylan

I am Shane Livingston. Which is a lot more than what a lot of people can say…

— 11 months ago
#music  #essay  #journal  #emotion  #personal 
iOS7 is absolutely beautiful on the iPad! 

I’ve always been a fan of Apple products. Not really for the reason a lot of people tend to like them; that whole, “it just works” bit that people like to throw out there. I’ve always loved the design and the small details that they throw in.

Watching the icons come rushing in from oblivion whenever you leave an app. How smooth the Control Panel slides up when you swipe up. Or watching an app fly up to the heavens when you close it down in the new multi-tasking interface.

A pleasure?

I would say so.

iOS7 is absolutely beautiful on the iPad!

I’ve always been a fan of Apple products. Not really for the reason a lot of people tend to like them; that whole, “it just works” bit that people like to throw out there. I’ve always loved the design and the small details that they throw in.

Watching the icons come rushing in from oblivion whenever you leave an app. How smooth the Control Panel slides up when you swipe up. Or watching an app fly up to the heavens when you close it down in the new multi-tasking interface.

A pleasure?

I would say so.

— 1 year ago with 2 notes
#Apple  #iOS7  #iPad Mini  #iPad  #Technology  #Tablet 
Baldur’s Gate - RPG

I’ve always been a fan of fantasy games. Whether it be the aptly, and somewhat misleadingly named Final Fantasy series. Or even the phenomenon known as Pocket Monsters (Pokemon to most), I’ve always found myself drawn to these other worlds. These days, I think it was that I got to see things I’d never have imagined on my own. I was pretty imaginative in my own right, but it was seeing these new ‘ideas’ that fueled my own imagination. Today, I want to talk about one game in particular that has captured my attention… again.

Baldur’s Gate is a D&D-based fantasy RPG originally released in 1998 for the PC. In its time, and even now to some extent, it is considered by many to be among the best western RPGs ever developed. You could say, I am among those who think that way.

For all of the reasons it has earned its acclaim, and so many more, this is a game that has sent me through a minefield of emotions. There is choice and consequence. Deep characters with memorable personalities, which is even hard to find in novels. And gameplay that is just so fantastically addictive.

But more that anything, I enjoyed the story(ies). Not just the story that you find yourself most directly involved in as you progress through the game, but the stories that you get entangled in from just putzing around. Seeing the personalities of your five companions clash as you wander through the wilderness, trying to find your way. Sometimes, the situation grows a bit dire, when you’ve been sleeping on the ground for days, and you’re more lost than when you started the adventure. Now you have to try and end a quarrel between comrades before it turns ugly. 

How do you appease two completely different individuals? Two people who have differing interests and goals, and what they are willing to do to achieve their goal. It’s not easy…

When a few people in your group have particularly close ties, it can make things a bit worse. If you take sides, you don’t just lose one comrade, you lose two…

Maybe things do get violent and you have to draw your blade. Will they still respect you as a leader?

It’s rare that a game is willing to flesh out all the delicate strands that make up a real relationship. The sort of relationships and interactions that you have with others in real life (though admittedly, most of us probably don’t carry around broadswords anymore). There is a real depth to all the choices you make, and how you treat those around you.

If you ever have the opportunity to play this game, and you have no excuse because they just re-released it, really let yourself be drawn in. It can be hard to do sometimes for some people, but really give it a go and you’ll find that you are investing in the decisions you make. You have to stand by what happens and make the best of it. Regardless of how old this game gets, it still brings with it a breath of fresh air.

— 1 year ago with 4 notes
#Gaming  #RPG  #baldur's gate  #short essay  #opinion piece  #storytelling  #video games 
The many mistakes and perfections that bring themselves to light when they are written out.

The many mistakes and perfections that bring themselves to light when they are written out.

— 1 year ago
#musical staff  #music  #staff  #notes  #composition  #artsy 
Peace of Mind

Fight for your peace of mind
For your prize
For all of this time
You put in to your peace of mind

— 1 year ago
#short poem  #poetry  #stanza  #rhyme 

This is a song that was inspired by Penelope of the Odyssey. You may, or may not, recall that Penelope was the wife of Odysseus. While Odysseus was out slaying cyclops, pissing off gods, and sleeping with the sea nymphs, Penelope was waiting faithfully at their palace while every man in the Greek isles had moved in to try and court the poor gal. I remember from 8th grade literature that the conversation between Penelope and her suitors was a little less than pleasant; so it could have gone something like this!

— 1 year ago
#Original music  #folk rock  #musician  #singer  #songwriter  #acoustic  #guitar 
Fast Times @ Taoist High

   I was pondering life in the shower earlier when I stumbled onto a bit of truth. In my constant revaluation of my own life, at times, I wonder why I can’t live in some magical middle zone. What I mean is; on one side, you have a very calculated form of living. On the other, you have the carefree, zen-like whimsy of letting go and allowing the world to do its thing.

   But, that’s the point

   You can live in some magical middle zone. It’s not exactly magical, and while I’m not sure how we could zone-out a state of being, it does exist. It might not be an easy thing to do, but most things worth doing are rarely easy. And while it would be nice if it was just a bus ride away, without the journey there isn’t even a destination.

"When you think you got it, finally after all this time… You don’t…"

                                                     ~They

It really is true, what they say. But another big part of the journey is being able to pick yourself up and keep moving. You’ll never be any further behind than you need to be, not as long as you keep on the path. 

   (I learned that from a Pooh bear)

— 1 year ago
#philosophy  #taoism  #life  #thoughts 
Here’s the full version of the avatar photo

Here’s the full version of the avatar photo

— 1 year ago
#photography  #glow  #filter  #musician  #selfshot 
A Word On Busking

   Busking is the act of performing on the street for money. While it is most often associated with music, any form of entertainment that is done for tips can be deemed busking as well. In that same breath it sometimes carries the negative connotation of being associated with vagabonds and homeless.

   That all being said, I quite enjoy busking. I have gotten to do it sporadically over the years and I have always enjoyed it. For me it is a lot of things, but more than anything it’s a very pure act. There are no effects, no processing, no stagnant audience; it is just you and the world. You put yourself out, vulnerable to every passerby, in hopes that you can make some sort of connection with just one of them.

   Then it becomes two.

   Then three

   Four

   Just as quickly as one song ends and another begins there is a group of many individuals standing before you. This is not an audience, they have paid nothing to see you and can go whenever they wish. This is just a group of individuals, many perfect strangers with nothing to share, suddenly given this short moment of unity. A unified enjoyment of what you have created.

   Whether it is music, art, dance, or the demonstration of your own unique craft, you have created it…

   And it has been enjoyed by complete strangers.

— 1 year ago
#busking  #music  #philosophy  #life  #art