so what's next?

I don’t know.

I have a couple theories:

  • I continue my winning streak.

  • Something unfortunate happens that sets me back, and I am grateful for this winning streak while it lasted.

  • Whatever happens next is very different than what I am accustomed to in my life.

  • All of the above

What’s my best guess?

That depends on how I see myself.

I’m totally prepared for Door #2. I’ve been there before, and I’ll be there again at some point. My brain is telling me to prepare for whatever is behind Door #2.

I already know that I’ll peek behind Door #3 next year. I know some things that are definitely going to happen, and you might not believe me when I tell you what they are. I’m starting to experience some things my emotional makeup isn’t totally prepared to handle. That’s OK. I’m ready to try some new things.

Door #1 is the one I’m least prepared to acknowledge. I’m not accustomed to a two year winning streak. I can’t say I’ve ever felt good for that long. You hear grit in my playing; the reason is there’s grit in my life. I didn’t make things easy for myself, but everyone didn’t always make things easy for me. On top of that, there were some cosmic occurrences with seemingly no preparation or precedent. That’s life for almost everyone, including me.

It is more of a challenge for me to try new things than it is to stick to the things I know best. Eventually, change comes to the things and people you know best, or your needs change to the point where you no longer want the things and people you know best. That is a new realization. To an extent, everything in my life is new. I drove by the house we lived in for 25 years; it is unrecognizable now. New energy is inside and outside. I had so many new experiences this year - like driving up to Hartford last weekend, completely unprepared, and finding out that I was on a gig with Sarah Hanahan ten minutes before the start of the gig, which, by the way, was spiritual, fierce, and way better than anything else I could have done that night - that I can safely say I’m making it up as I go.

Improvisation, more or less, is the art of recombining the ideas you have in new ways. The future is kind of like that, as well; tomorrow, and every day after that, you will probably repurpose aspects of your life in new ways. You know the ingredients, inside and out, but you don’t necessarily know how the stew will taste different tomorrow. If it tastes the same, you might be OK with that for a little while. Eventually, we all need to feel like life is moving forward, like we’re making progress. If we didn’t, we would be perfectly fine doing nothing for the rest of our lives. We need to be social and active, and we are.

The older I get, the more I ask myself to make life feel new. I don’t want a long stretch of time to feel familiar, or I might think I’m not making progress. A certain amount of familiarity is still a must; if life changes too fast, I will wrestle with the meaning of the changes until I know. Many have asked me to “go with the flow.” As of right now, I can’t, and I probably never will.

For this reason, I don’t know whether 2019 will bring significant change and unfamiliarity, or consistency and predictability. I don’t know which of those ideas sounds better right now. I might not be ready to live my dream, but I’m definitely not ready to know that I’m nowhere close. I lost too much time to accept stagnation, but I also accept my limitations as a person and a musician. Whether I can do what you ask me to do depends on whether you ask. If you don’t ask, I’ll know I need to wait. If you do, I’ll summon my courage and jump in head first. I can promise you that much.

I carry the pain of a three year hiatus from music and life around with me. It’s heavy. Sometimes I need to take a little break for fear that I might be acclimating too quickly. I feel the stress that comes with making every opportunity count. There’s no learning curve; for whatever I’m doing, the time to do it is now, or potentially never.

My heart is all in, or all out. If I’m not all in on something, I should save my energy for something else. That’s my life. That’s my pulse. That’s me.

The good news is that I’m establishing a life that works. I’m not going to sacrifice that for any gig. You can’t put a price on how I feel right now.

Give me this day my daily bread, and I’ll be all right. Grant me some artistic license. Allow me to show you my heart and mind. I’m a little bold sometimes, but it’s easier than ever for me to love myself and you. I feel like my existence is correct, not an aberration of a cosmic formula. One of the greatest gifts is knowing that you are good enough, appreciated, and loved. I acknowledged that this year, and it feels good.

As an artist, I hope I can help you find your heart. It can be difficult to give love all the time. If I show you some love, maybe you’ll pass it around. That would be all right with me.

See you somewhere.

Very truly yours,

Brian Simontacchi