Thanksgiving is upon us once again. Thanksgiving always provides us with a day to eat turkey, catch some lovely fall weather (fingers always crossed), and take in another University of Texas football game against some unspecified cross-state rival (Texas Fight Texas Fight Yeah Texas Fight).
None of my family live in Texas. They are all still in Canada, so they celebrated Thanksgiving Day in October, otherwise known as Columbus Day in the United States. I don't mind celebrating two Thanksivings, especially if doing so provides the potential for more turkey.
Thanksgiving Day is followed by Black Friday, a day of retail specials and sales. Ugh. The best part of Black Friday is that it reminds me of a great song by Steely Dan, but I digress.
But with all kidding aside, Thanksgiving is a day to Give Thanks.
I had never really planned on walking away from the guitar, not that I ever did so completely anyway. With that said, getting back on stage, guitar in hand, really wasn't on my radar for the immediate future.
That was until my friend Tad Hillin mentioned that he would be playing a gig at Strange Brew in Austin on August 31. As it was also his birthday, he was planning on having an open jam after the gig with fellow musician friends. About 6 weeks out from the gig, he suggested I bring my guitar and play.
Six weeks away. Minimal callouses on my fingers. Dexterity a little rusty. And the guitar chops faded from a time that seemed like eons ago.
Of course I would.
It was a solitary musical moment that would be forever etched in my mind. What it became was a life-changing event of epic proportions.
August 16, 1984. Thirty years ago. It was an early 15th birthday present - a show at the National Arts Center in Ottawa featuring none other than Stevie Ray Vaughan.
The first notes fired out from the worn-down Fender Strat that night can still be heard echoing in the back of my mind. My jaw dropped and I sat there mesmerized. I remember the moment like it was yesterday.
Stevie Ray spoke to me in a language that I understood. Direct. Heartfelt. Raw. And it changed my life.
I'd originally just planned it as a quick trip to west Texas. It was going to be just a few days to get away, to breath, to simply find some peace and quiet in a what had become a rather emotionally challenging world over the past couple of months.
Little did I know it would become something far greater. Serendipity.
Please allow me to introduce what I am now calling Write Now! 2014. Here's the story - and the results from the adventure that it proved to be.
May 1, 1994 is a day that will forever stand in infamy. If I close my eyes and pause for a moment, the memories come flooding back with great clarity. They still remain vivid yet at the same time sad and haunting.
May 1, 1994 is when the world lost Ayrton Senna at Imola.
Time, as we all know, passes us by quickly. It is hard to believe that two decades have passed. Today I share a few thoughts and reflections on the legend that is Senna.
Wise men say that we won't face more adversity in life than we can handle. Wise men say that each moment of our lives prepares us to live life more fully today and tomorrow.
I can say that over the past few weeks, I have been a little hard-pressed to feel or truly appreciate the wisdom of the wise.
Loss. It is something that invariably and eventually appears in our lives. We will all experience loss in some way or another: a friend, a family member, a love. Loss makes an appearance in our world and can challenge us to the core of our being – but there is much to be learned.
The flicker of an idea had been there for some time, but the flame was doused with gasoline when I read the article from "Guitar Player" magazine. It was entitled "Big Guitars From Austin". The issue: December 1986.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and his smoldering blues guitar had initially brought Austin to my attention in 1983 or 1984. But when I read this article, I realized that Austin was nirvana for guitar players. There was a seemingly endless list: Eric Johnson, Omar Dykes, Denny Freeman, Derek O'Brien, Doug Sahm, Jimmie Vaughan, W.C. Clark. Apparently, this was a city that I needed to explore - pronto.
But looking back on that article, there is one musician that now truly stands out in a sea of Austin six-string guitar slingers: David Grissom.
There is nothing more amusing than a cold front barreling into Austin in December. It can certainly be an ominous proposition as freezing rain can shut the city down in the blink of an eye. Although I grew up shoveling snow from my doorstep, removing a half inch slab of ice from your car in the morning can be a daunting task indeed.
A week prior to the impending front, meteorologists were projecting the end of the world - or the winter wonderland equivalent of it. As it turned out, it was all much ado over almost nothing - again. The fear and paranoia of the impending doom made the whole experience far worse than it really needed to be.
Please, oh please, could we have a voice of climatological reason in the deep south?
In the meantime, grab a cup of hot cocoa and get ready for the next episode of the Rhubarb Report.
I can say that the year 2013 has set a new standard. As hard as it is for me to believe, I actually heard Christmas music while grocery shopping early this month. Yes, I am serious. There is nothing like having 8 weeks of lead time to get you into the Christmas spirit.
But before we forge into December, we will experience Thanksgiving. What are you giving thanks for this year? That is definitely something to ponder over that second plate of turkey and stuffing.
Meanwhile, it's time for another episode of the Rhubarb Report. Grab a plate and dig in.
Speechless. Yes, that would have been me this week. It wasn't for lack of verbal capacity. I was speechless because I found myself without a voice this week. In reality, I still had a voice, but it was some strange amalgam of squeaks and crackles. It was a vocal sound worthy of puberty far more than that of a 48 year-old man.
This is what happens when the allergens start kicking up in Austin. For all the positives of life in Central Texas, the pollen counts definitely have a negative impact.
I am sure you can imagine that there were at least a few students (and probably a few friends as well) that were more than happy that I was a little speechless. But I digress.
So what do you do when you are tending to a vocal impairment? Stop talking and start ... writing! Welcome to episode 079 of the Rhubarb Report.
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Smart Physio posts are on professional and career-related topics such as health, fitness, training, and health care.
Rhubarb Diaries posts are commentary, perspectives, opinions, humor and insight on all of my favorite topics: music, sport, and politics/current events.
Allan Besselink, PT, Dip.MDT has a unique voice in the world of sport and health care, one that has been defined by his experiences as physiotherapist, mentor, McKenzie practitioner, coach, innovator, author, educator, patient, and athlete. Read more about Allan, contact him, get updates via email, or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.