The tour is over.
As there is a long weekend coming up in Canada, I decided to stay in the Miami area for now. In less than an hour, Jeroen and myself will be sharing a cab to the airport. There, our ways will split as he returns to The Netherlands; I will be renting a car (a convertible; end the tour on a high note) and live the moment for the next two days. On Monday afternoon, I will be returning the rental car in the Jacksonville airport, where my flight to Buffalo (with a connection in Charlotte) departs at 2:00pm. Once in Buffalo, I will be driving my worthless ‘98 Accord back to Waterloo.
Time to say goodbye. Not only goodbye to you, the readers, who took the time and effort to follow my blog—the first blog I have ever written—and made me feel that I am not alone; it is also a goodbye for the first part of my life, which has ended on July 31, 2008, at approximately 11:00pm.
Many of the things I am going to write here are meant not only for you guys to read, but also for myself, to capture the thoughts and feelings I have. Something to remember 5, 10, 20, 100 years from now.
There were many reasons for me to put my life on hold for more than a month and follow this great group of musicians across North America.
One reason was to get some inspiration to create my own music. Going by what I was able to record in ten minutes while at Kami’s place in Kentucky, I should say that yes, this trip has inspired me a lot. There are many things I’ll have to cope with once I return to Ontario, however it will not be too long before I put my hands on some recording equipment and work on my first composition. I can’t tell you much about it now, except that it is going to involve four instruments at most (an acoustic guitar, a Fender Stratocaster, a piano and a Gibson—out of which only the Gibson is at my disposal at the moment).
The second reason was that I simply wanted to pay a tribute to the band. I am not talking about stalking band members in dark alleys or behind stage doors; or be on alert whenever a stage crew member approaches, waiting for the best time to ask for some stage memorabilia such as guitar picks. I am talking about simply being there and enjoying the music, the same music that has been ringing in my ears for so long.
One issue here requires elaboration. Notice that I wrote “pay tribute to the band”. Up to several years ago, I used to be a Mark Knopfler fan. No, I didn’t collect bootlegs, CD’s or guitar picks, I didn’t trade merchandise with others and I was not interested in the slightest in Mark’s personal life. I was simply awed by the music, and attributed my deep impression to the greatness of one person—Mark Knopfler.
That has changed on July 5, 2005, when I watched the band performing live for the first time in my life, in Toronto. Only then I realized that the true power of Mark Knopfler’s music lays not only within his superb writing skills and amazing guitar work, but—for the most part—within the musicians he surrounds himself with. I have yet to listen to any group of musicians working in levels of harmony that even comes close to this fantastic group of seven.
The third reason was for me to take some time off and collect inventory. See what I have accomplished during the last 30 years; what have I learned; what is left to work on; how can I become a better person; recognize what I should be thankful for; and so forth.
I am looking back to as far ago as I can remember, and I realize that I do have, and have accomplished, some things to cherish and to be proud of:
- I have a successful career;
- I know I can compose beautiful music—at least, beautiful in my ears;
- I have expanded my knowledge in a few subjects that I feel are important in order to lead comfortable life in our day and age, including that of working, dealing and communicating with people;
- I have two living parents, one sister (29 y/o) and three nephews (9, 4, and 3 y/o) who are the sweetest, most adorable kids in the world that I miss so much as they are 10,000km away;
- I don’t have many friends; yet, the friends I do have—I appreciate for what they are and I am proud to be associated with them;
- And above all, I have—at least, I hope I still have (long story)—the single sweetest, kindest and most beautiful woman in the world right next to me. Her name is Karen and, for me, she is the one and only one. Such a perfect combination of kindness, unselfishness, sweetness, intelligence and beauty is just too rare to let go of. What will happen with us once she returns to Waterloo in September, after four months of absence—that I can’t tell. I can just say that the joy I experienced during the last four years had a lot to do with her being my girlfriend.
That said, in order to put it in perspective, I have to consider the starting point. Not many of you—as a matter of fact, very few of you—are aware of my history: the environment I grew up in; the challenges I had to face ever since I was three years old; the very hard choices I had to make during the first 30 years of living, choices that favoured long‐term gain, making immensely painful sacrifices.
I won’t go into the details, but rest assured: it wasn’t easy.
The inventory I took above is needed to understand the reason for the gratitude I feel towards the band. My gratitude to the band is not for making all of the above possible, because they really didn’t; whatever I have achieved so far was not due to Mark Knopfler’s music—I owe it all to the people I surrounded myself with, my family and myself.
So what exactly am I thanking the band for?
The answer is simple: for being there, with great music, in the ups and downs; for having created such beautiful and touching music through which it became easier (rather than possible) for me to connect to my inner self, and find the powers to move on, despite so many difficulties and challenges.
Spending such a long time away from home, mostly by myself, I could not help but inquiring into some inner values and try to learn something new out of this mess we call “life”. I tried. Have I succeeded? Well, I’ll put it this way: much more than I learned new things, I have reaffirmed ideas, values and practices that I already had—some of which have been passed on to me from my wonderful parents and my close circle of friends, and some of which I have learned on my own, mostly the hard way.
Important lessons / reaffirmations / resolutions (for myself; whatever you make out of life is, really, up to you):
- I must always remember where I came from, what my starting point was, and what it is that brought me to this point. True enjoyment comes not from what money can buy, but from the realization and recognition of what took one from lows to highs, and the realization that I can do.I should not take anything for granted; whatever is worth having will go away if I just let it.
- What’s here today is here to be appreciated and enjoyed.
- Communicating with people is the single most important art that I took the time to learn.
- I have never, and will never, just “accept” things. I should never shy away of challenging, either myself or others. When challenging others, I should do so in a respectful way—respecting their values and wishes, regardless to how different those are from mine.
- I should never ask for anything from anyone, if I have the slightest suspicion that both a positive and a negative response will put the other side in a state of discomfort.
- Everybody in the world wants to be good and feel good about what they’re doing. The only difference between us is how we define “good”. Realizing the other side’s definition of “good” is the key to developing long‐lasting relationships of any kind.
- Proving to somebody that they made a mistake is easy but often counterproductive. Making somebody reach this conclusion on their own is much more effective, however requires a completely different skill set;
- An original quote by my friend Bill Miller of Waterloo: “Stupidity is billable; if you’re going to be stupid, it’s going to cost you at the end”;
- A Turkish proverb, also quoted by my friend Bill on every occasion: “No matter how far you went down the wrong path—turn back”.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all:
- To all of you readers who followed my blog, commented and made this journey the pleasure that it has been;
- To all of you who introduced themselves to me during the shows. Was great getting to know you;
- To all of you guys, gals and families who helped me so much during this trip, either by inviting me to stay with them, giving me a ride when they could and providing advice—you made this trip so much easier and so much joyful, not enough words in the English language exist to express my gratitude;
- To Jesca Hoop, for the excellent opening acts;
- To the software development team I am currently a part of, back in Waterloo, for filling in for me during my absence;
- (from left to right) To Matt Rollings, John McCusker, Glenn Worf, Mark Knopfler, Danny Cummings, Richard Bennett and Guy Fletcher for being what they are and for doing what they know best: performing the greatest music in the world.
Most of you are probably asking yourselves whether I had the chance to speak with Mark Knopfler before he departed to the UK. The answer is no, I didn’t. If it wasn’t meant to happen, then it wasn’t meant to happen.
I did, however, get the chance to speak with each and every other member of the band. Great guys. I am happy to have had the opportunity to associate myself with this group of musicians who are, first and foremost, great people.
This is the last post in this blog. Of course, feel free to post comments—to which I may reply—however no new posts will be published.
Here is to the first thirty years of living. Let the next thirty be just as joyful and productive.
The subtitle of my blog reads “Let it all go…”.
I did; and whatever really mattered to me, allowed me to breathe but never left me.