From The Side of the Road… time off goals versus reality

Last December, we took a look at some of the ways that bluegrass musicians’ lofty pandemic goals had run smack into the brick wall of reality. For many of us, the last 18 months have at times felt like a series of brick walls erected in our path. Brick walls hurt if you walk straight into them, unless they have doors permitting you to walk through them, or perhaps an open window you can crawl through. I have no idea where I’m going with this metaphor.

The point is, though, six months after we’ve come to terms with the fact that our newfound free time didn’t produce that three-volume instructional mandolin book series, or the concept album of original bluegrass songs about lawn ornaments (Grandpa’s Lawn Ball). It mostly produced a lot of binge-watching, excessive Amazon ordering, and an extra 15 pounds.

Now that we’re seeing brighter and brighter light at the end of the tunnel, maybe we should take a moment to just forgive ourselves for our lack of pandemic productivity. None of us expected any of this, and none of us could predict how a year and a half of it was going to affect us.

It will also help us to feel better better about our own shortcomings in the past 18 months if we read about the pandemic failures of others that may be even worse than our own (let’s hope). It seems that six months after coming to terms with how things actually turned out, then revising expectations downward, bluegrass musicians and enthusiasts continued to blow it repeatedly. A few were open enough to talk to me on condition of anonymity and on condition that I wouldn’t use a clumsy brick wall metaphor (whoops).

Here are more COVID era goals, followed by what was actually achieved:

Goal: Design and build a hard shell guitar case made entirely of used plastic bottles.
Reality: Put a new bumper sticker on the case I had. Also made a plastic bottle recycling run.

Goal: Become fluent in a new language in preparation for a 3-week international tour planned for early 2021.
Reality: Abandoned the tour, scheduled one more livestream concert instead. Learned the German phrase, “Das Mädchen wäscht die zweite Erdbeere” (“The girl is washing the second strawberry”).

Goal: Start a new booking agency, signing at least one headline act and three up-and-comers.
Reality: Booked one club date for myself which just got moved to March of 2022.

Goal: Make up for dwindling CD sales by developing a line of fresh-baked goods to sell on the road when touring resumes.
Reality: Baked two loaves of bread. Ate them.

Goal: Start a podcast about bridging political differences within our music community by becoming better listeners and by concentrating on the common bond of music.
Reality: Argued with my paranoid, cranky uncle on Facebook.

Goal: Land a prestigious instrument endorsement deal
Reality: Landed a baker’s yeast endorsement deal (20% discount).

Goal: Completely clean out and renovate garage, turning it into a state-of-the-art recording studio.
Reality: Acquired six chickens and a goat, turned garage into a makeshift barn.

Goal: Write a 500-page memoir of my life in music.
Reality: Wrote a 25-page pandemic memoir (Week Two: pretty much like Week One).