Music from 6 Potomac: Six Times Down, Seven Times Up

As you can imagine, music production has slowed down a bit. That doesn’t mean
we have stopped.

You get knocked down; you get back up. Lather, rinse, and repeat. When I was a
student of the martial arts, my teachers would tell me every time I got hurt, “Get up.
Use this pain.”

I hated that macho line as a kid. I stood about five three and was barely a teenager.
To add to the complexity, my learning disabilities distort spatial relationships. This
made it impossible for me to do much in the way of dodging and weaving. Instead,
I was taught to wade in and accept that I must take a hit (or ten) to achieve my goal.
Said goal being the use of my small body and the laws of physics to knock down a
thirty-year-old black belt.

So, I ate the floor. A lot. I always got back up. Sometimes more gingerly than
others.

After a while, watching as I scraped myself off the floor to run back into the fight
time and time again… Well, the adults stopped laughing. They started to call me
Tank. Dad thought that was hilarious. At least, until he saw me kicking over my
head, and later teaching adults to fight with sticks and knives. I had no talent for the
martial arts beyond a smart mouth. My trick was to keep getting back until people
could no longer able knock me down. Then I kept on going.

Yes. I am aware that this is like my experiences as a musician, as well as the rest of
my life. You get back up. Learn from failure, pain, and loss. Transform it like iron
in a forge until the process makes you useful. Then you keep on going.

This week will be slow and sad. My father and I must get used to taking care of
each other. We’re both a little lost now. After the memorial service on Saturday,
things will begin falling into new patterns.

Get up. Use this pain. Easy to say or write. Another thing to find yourself getting
back up when you were hitting your stride. But I’m not alone. I’ve got pop and he’s
got me. We’re helping each other to our feet, dusting one another like Stan and
Ollie. For now, that’s enough.

On the music front, getting help with pain management has proved to be
impossible. I am making the most of the hours when the neuropathy and arthritis
allow me to move. I am developing workarounds for the limitations in my hands.
Recording should recommence in the next week or so.

I am told that some wish me to host a workshop on how I work around disabilities. I
cannot fathom how I would describe my process. My father sums it up as having
the grit to try everything possible. I would add the intellectual curiosity to try the
impossible. Everybody has that in them to some degree. Unhappily, I have found
people talk themselves out of trying. Usually, long before they discover their
capabilities. I’m not talented or special, I’m just old-school Philly tough.

In other news, we are still proceeding with the banjo workshop series. This one is going to have a cool twist that will with infatuate or infuriate. Another project of a
different nature, yet discussed publicly, will be launching soon.
We’ll be okay, folks.

Now, I need to go rest my hands. Arthritis is screaming this afternoon. Need to rest
up for mom’s memorial on Saturday.

God bless, my friends.
— Patrick

Mom took this picture of me. Longwood Gardens Christmas in the late 70s. It was such a cold night that I wore my Hudson’s Bay capote and skunk-skin hat. Mom had on a prairie dress and handwoven shawl. People thought we were part of the event, so we got to wander around like we owned the place. When we got home, we recreated the decorations with dried natural material. Pressed queen Anne’s lace for snowflakes. We didn’t have anything, but we had everything.