Moderation: Oscar Wilde and Ben Franklin Duke It Out!



Saturday night’s gig at Shine showed that every time that I try something a bit out of my comfort zone, bad things happen.  Once upon time, I was stuck (frozen by fear?) in one place on the stage with a funeral director’s dour expression.  Occasionally, the pained look of somebody trying to pass a kidney stone took over.  Those expressions certainly did not look like we were having fun.

Finally, as the music and being in front of an audience became more familiar, ease entered the picture.  And sometimes a smile or a grin emerged.

Saturday night, new territory beckoned.  Why stick with the familiar or the comfortable?  Something said, "Take a risk."  And I took the plunge.  I tried walking off the stage.  Entering the audience.  Raising my arm and giving a hang loose sign.  I even tried the dreaded sticking out my tongue. 

Nothing good came of any of this.  Each time, I realized, “It’s dark out here and I can’t see the fret markers.”  I then wondered, “Why didn’t I remember that?”  The results -- usually bad -- varied.  Clinkers -- notes that stunk up a song.  Losing my rhythm -- something was off.  Losing my place altogether -- silence from the lead guitar.  No reward was forthcoming.

I had stretched the “Pup schtick” past its breaking point -- beyond entertaining to distracting.

Multitasking just may not be for me.  Actually, the correct phrasing is “extreme multitasking clearly is not for me.”  So is moderate multitasking in my future?

Somewhere along the line, we have heard, “Moderation in all things.”  That quote is attributed to Terence (Publius Terentius Afer), a Roman comic dramatist of the Second Century BC.  Benjamin Franklin came up with moderate moderation:  “Moderation in all things -- including moderation.”

Some of us, however, are not given to moderation.  We follow the words of Oscar Wilde: “Moderation is a fatal thing.  Nothing succeeds like excess.”  We find truth in what Somerset Maugham wrote, “Excess on occasion is exhilarating.  It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.”

Yes, Saturday night was a learning experience.  My comfort with playing in a band is not license to step out into some antic that is unpracticed or beyond a limited skill set.  In the post-show critique, Benjamin Franklin is beating Oscar Wilde big time.

Yes, we will stick with “moderation in all things -- including moderation” for now.  Deep down we all know that Oscar Wilde is lurking, and . . . .

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