Days of Gratitude, Day 23: Back to the Beginning

MattiSGIt’s been a long time since I played guitar.  A very long time.  Outside of doing a little recording here or there, I haven’t really played for a long stretch, going through songs, or trying to keep myself in playing shape.  The band has been sort of on extended hiatus.  Other members are keeping themselves occupied with their other projects, and our lives are just not in sync, so we can’t even really have band practices anymore.  It’s sad in a way, because I love jamming with the group, but part of me doesn’t miss it all that much.  I like to make music, I like to hear something in my head come to fruition and listen to it over and over, but I’m not into the daily grind of being in a band.  Maybe I’m too old, and I am aging out of the ‘scene’.  I don’t hate it, but it doesn’t have the same appeal it once did for me.  I’m 42, I’m never going to be a rock star, I’m not going to make a living off of my music.  I’m okay with that, and grateful for anyone who likes a song or album I’ve released, but such is the way the ‘business’ is today, it’s impossible for the vast majority of artists, let alone middle-aged artists playing folk metal in the United States- to be able to survive on their music alone.  I’ll be punching a clock until I die or retire, whichever comes first.

Again, I am okay with that, because I am happy that I can still write and play music at all.

I have a lot of nerve issues.  My right hand has tingling and numbness in my thumb as a result of a pinched nerve I had in my neck a few years ago.  It hasn’t been the same since, and I have a hard time holding on to picks because I can’t always feel them.  My left hand, recently, has developed cubital tunnel syndrome, which means I have diminished movement and sensation on my ring finger and pinkie.  I used to be able to do the Vuclan salute with that hand rather well, now I can’t do it at all.  I can’t hold my hand open, palm-up, and keep my fingers together.  I can’t make a gun with that hand, if I try to straighten my pointer and forefingers, the other two will uncurl.  This is just the nerve issues in my hands, I still have horrible sciatica which I’ve been suffering for several years.  I haven’t had full sensation on my left foot since late 2011.  My right foot has intermittent numbness and tingling.  I’m falling apart and everything I could do has slowly been taken away from me, such as weightlifting, or I’ve had a harder time doing, such as playing guitar.

I don’t know if any of this is fixable.  I now have health insurance but I still can’t afford treatment with a 6K deductible.  So… I’m throwing everything else at the wall.  Diet, exercises to help rehab the nerve impingement, controlled practice and persistence to work around the nerve issues, massage and physical therapy when I can.  I know that I can’t stop, because if I do, then all the music I hear in my head will never be heard.  Not truly.  And I can still play.

Today, I dusted off my Epiphone SG Custom.  This was the first guitar I went into a store and purchased myself.  It was only about 6 years ago but I remember the whole process of buying it.  I recorded a lot of Frost Giant songs on it.  Since my other guitar is now in a different tuning, I brought out the SG and started on very shaky ground.  The first run through Heathen’s Lament wasn’t as bad as I feared.  First Veil of Snow was better than expected… and then the other songs started rolling off the line.  Wings of the Blood Eagle, Last Stand of the Einherjar, A Common Son– by the time I played the cover of Someone Like You (see the video below, playing the aforementioned SG) I was playing it and singing it- something I struggled to do back when the band was practicing together on a regular basis.  My Life For Yours and Not While I Draw Breath were difficult due to the speed and stamina it takes to play those but I got through them.  Silver Dagger felt so good.  I can still play.  I can knock this rust off and still go.  That felt really good.

My hands are on fire, not in pain, just tingly and my muscles are tired.  They should be, I haven’t worked those in months.  I’m grateful and thankful that despite these physical setbacks, I can still create and play music, I still have my mind and my voice.

I’m not dead yet.  Hooray!

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