Posts Tagged ‘family’

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LETTING GO

February 26, 2010

Your thoughts go back to the beginning: how you met, the project’s evolution, decisions made along the way in what has now been a 16 month process – a fact causing you to sometimes shake your head in near disbelief.

The initial goal was and still is to make great music together. As is often the case over time, camaraderie is formed. In addition to learning and performing music, you laugh, share past experiences, socialize outside of “band stuff” and ultimately, form friendships that appear as binding as family.

If you’re lucky, all of this cements the group in a fashion similar to any healthy relationship. There’s understanding, compromise, caring, open communication and most importantly, respect. Some who are close to the group often don’t understand the bond. Short of a clear explanation, you simply state, “It just is.”

But now, you’re at a crossroads. Neither direction is easy. As you survey the thoughts of other members, you realize you’re not alone. There is concern, angst, caring and kindness all present in this heart wrenching, but all-to-common situation.

You have to replace him.

He’s done nothing wrong. Most bands would be thrilled to have his easy-going manner, professional attitude, punctuality, kindness of heart and giving spirit.

Most bands.

But yours is an evolving project. The material is becoming more challenging – the result of a consensus decision. The desire to move in this direction also challenges the skill level of each member. All have every intention and the ability to meet the challenge – except one.

“His heart’s in the right place,” you tell yourself, so you keep working with him. “He’s the one that started the band,” you remember, as you witness endless struggle with some musical passages. You begin to ask yourself, “Has he got the chops?”

Then comes the defining moment.

Rehearsing one four beat measure for over an hour, in a span of three different rehearsals, he continues to deny what everyone else knows: he’s not able to learn material of this caliber. He becomes defensive, challenging the other band members, rather than himself. Adding insult to injury, this was the night he invited a co-worker/friend/musician to observe what would ultimately be his last rehearsal with the the rest of you. Fortunately, because of the quality of the band’s character, and his in particular, only frustration – not anger – sets in.

There is the pending disappointment that comes as the night progresses. By the end of rehearsal, the inevitability of the next step is clear.

For the next couple of days, e-mails go back and forth among the rest of you, expressing sorrow and churn for the upcoming conversation. Then, suddenly, there are none. No more funny e-mails. No more links to cool tunes on YouTube. There’s nothing more to say.

It’s now three days away, then two, then one.

Everyone arrives early. There’s a quiet anxiety permeating the room in anticipation of his arrival. The suggestion is made to sit at the kitchen table. You start off, quietly and calmly, expressing your concerns over the last rehearsal, then move into why you feel the best for all is to move forward with someone else. Again, because of his character, he too is calm and understanding, seeming almost relieved. After you finish, the rest of the members express their concerns, in much the same manner.

Then, it’s over.

After packing his gear, he shakes hands with everyone and exits.

“I can’t believe how well that went. He was so good about it.”

“It’s as if he sensed it was coming – almost like he wanted out.”

Maybe, he did.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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OLDEST SON OF AN OLDEST SON – VOL. 1

June 1, 2009

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He was moving to the west coast to follow his dream.

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Camry, TrailerAccompanied by his fiancée, one of his buddies, the cat, and two trailers pulled with a four-door sedan and a small pick-up, he and the others waved goodbye as I snapped the pictures on that cold, wet, winter morning.

Truck, TrailerIt was January 2, 2000. My oldest son, Adam, spent the previous day at the house, sharing stories, feelings and dreams. I probably knew then his move was going to be permanent.

 

It’s a trait I share with both of my sons: always look forward, avoid looking back and live in the moment.

I certainly knew what he was feeling, completely understanding his desire to follow his dream. Anyone who has shifted their thinking from the conformity of their upbringing understands. There is an internal “voice” that seems to guide you in a different direction from what you were raised to believe. I was the first family member in my generation to chart a different course from the Greek Orthodox/Republican surroundings of my adolescence. I was probably not the most popular son or nephew but my brother and cousins thought it was “pretty cool.” Decades later, I learned that some of my cousins were silently cheering for me in my “revolt against the establishment.” I’m sure some of Adam’s cousins are doing the same thing. His younger brother stays in regular contact with him.

AdamPromoShotOnce I became a parent, I knew I would never stifle my children’s dreams. Adam’s decision to go into the entertainment industry was entirely his. His brother is succeeding at his own dream, albeit a very different choice than Adam’s. Both grew up watching me work at my dream  – the rehearsals, the performances and the recording sessions.

Adam writes about his departure this way. Little did he know that on that day he would make history by becoming the world’s FIRST video blogger, or vlogger

 

 

So here we are, nearly ten years later.

Saying “so much has happened” is beyond cliché. You can learn all the history at The Official Journey. He has not only privately shared much with me over the years (maybe too much – there are things a father doesn’t NEED to know), but in huge gestures of selflessness, has INCLUDED me in his successes: sharing the stage, introducing me to people in the industry and allowing me to experience “behind the scenes” events that very few people will ever know. There are no words to describe my gratitude.

But this series is about now. As I’m permitted to reveal events in his life, I will reveal my thoughts on those events. Hopefully, I will be able to witness some first-hand. It’s challenging when we’re 2,258 miles apart. (Google Maps, just in case you’re wondering.)

Some major events – all for the good – have taken place in the last five days that could change his life. Industry “heavyweights” are involved. I’ll comment on the events as soon as they are made public by those “heavyweights.”

Until then, I will tell no tale before it’s time. 🙂

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com