• JAM

Watch Your Step 4 -The Simple Life


Life used to be so simple. When I tell my students this they give me that, here we go look. Grandpa wants to tell us about the Good 'Ol Days when everything was better.

Not better, just different. I want to make a distinction between comparison and judgment. But to be honest, I do miss many things of the simple life. Life has become complicated.

Technology has brought us many wonders and conveniences. But along with speed comes impatience, with tools comes maintenance. There are two sides to each development. You gain here, you lose there.

There is a price to pay. It all boils down to whether the payoff is worth it.

Case in point: Let's look at how many bills I had to pay each month in 1975 compared to today. I had three: rent, utilities, and phone. That's it. My car was purchased in cash and no insurance was required. Credit was a new idea, so barely anyone had a credit card bill. That's five in total.

Today I have eighteen. We're talkin' a single guy with a relatively low overhead and no dependents. What's alarming is that compared to most folks, my number of payments is but a paltry few. I would wager that most Americans have twenty-five or more monthly bills.

Another issue is time management. With every new tool comes maintenance. Due to new technology, I am compelled to spend way more time than I would like, in front of a screen. Don't get me wrong, even though I entered the digital world kicking and screaming, I really love my computer and smart phone and the access they provide.

However, that double edged sword demands that I pay for it. I pay with my precious hours answering email, checking Facebook and the latest Kenny G blogs. In addition, much of the new software available involves tedious learning curves and even more time.

Learning-YUK!

The bottom line is that these tasks and many others that have evolved in the past thirty years cut into my practice and my nap time. I need a 30-hour day, but then every minute would still fill up with obligations.

So far, one could justify the inconveniences of our new-found conveniences. However, with each advancement comes higher expectations. If you want to conduct business, you have to keep pace with everyone else. This is not a new concept. The issue is that tasks don't get replaced, they just pile up.

When I would go gig hunting in 1975, all I needed was a business card, a demo tape and my irresistible charm.

Now I must be armed with a demo CD, email mailing list, website, business card, a social media page and the charm.

Cell phones are certainly handy when you need one, but some people use them indiscriminately, causing distractions for the owners and intrusions for everyone around them.

Peoples' impatience grows with each innovation. I'm as guilty as the next person. I remember getting frustrated with anyone who didn't have an answering machine - that seems like eons ago. When it comes to information and communication we want it and we want it now.

Speed is a valuable commodity and once you have it you never look back. It's very seductive, and therein lies the trap. You can't stop progress any more than you can stop time.

But are we content to live in the fast lane forever? I think it depends upon your perspective. Those of us who are old enough to remember more placid days see the world differently than the youth of today. They grew up in this environment. Many have no idea what it's like to have real space or silence, to actually enjoy being able to stop the world and smell the proverbial flowers.

I'm finding that defending my personal space against the ever-accelerating pace of the world increasingly difficult. Am I willing to give up the allures that the digital world has produced? That's a tough one. I think not.

Once you turn back you are immediately choking on the dust of those with whom you compete, and you've lost all hope of making a living. Now, I haven't the time or space to address similar issues like the population explosion, traffic congestion, noise pollution, etc. It's all part of the same phenomenon; more, faster, louder. We live in a world that never looks back and is constantly seeking an edge.

Its money driven, which is also nothing new. Yet, it seems that life gets ever more compressed and complicated and there is absolutely no end in sight.

But then, we said that same thing fifty years ago. Did the world pace demand that technology respond, or did technology create the acceleration of the world? Does it matter?

I do miss the simple life, but I have no intention of rolling over and playing dead. The life of a musician today is exciting, full of promise and vitality. The challenge is keeping your peace of mind while keeping up. Simple, right?

—Stanton Kessler

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