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  #1  
Old 10-02-2011, 12:17 AM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default The valleys ?

...


There is so much on this forum about the peaks.
The joys of drumming, the playing, the learning... the euphoria of it all, but how do people deal with their valleys? ...

The challenges, physical, mental -- the seemingly impossible walls, the plateaus. Staying the course while being beaten down by your own limitations, or quitting on some things and coming to terms with that..

Would be great to hear some of your stories about some of the ugliness ( or self belief ) it took for you to get where you got.
Even stories about getting comfortable with what you wanted to accomplish, but couldn't would be really interesting.

Are you doing what you wanted to be doing on the drums ?


...

Last edited by aydee; 10-02-2011 at 12:45 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-02-2011, 01:26 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Sometimes I have days where I find the drumkit to just be a very noisy and cumbersome instrument. I look at it's overall construction and feel like drum manufacturers still haven't figured out how to make a good kit.

I remedy this by playing around on other instruments usually.

Once you go bass, you go screaming back to drums (I kid... sorta)
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Old 10-02-2011, 01:43 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Like realizing you've spent time practicing and gigging equivalent to what it would of took to become a doctor and a lawyer, and realize the gig pay scale has not changed in 30 years.
I have a good day job, gigs are far and few between, but I have the desire to keep practicing more, this is some form of self abuse.
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Old 10-02-2011, 02:56 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

You make a good, sad point about gig pay, uniongoon.

In my small Washington state town, which is noted for its rich and varied music scene, the average gig pays $65+/-. 50 years ago, when I was in high school, the members of our band each took home more.

At least now I can drink.
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Old 10-02-2011, 03:57 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Can't really say I've suffered much. I got my van stolen at a gig, lost gear, tools, got the van back, but the scumbags wrecked my transmission. That cost me 2500.00 a month later when it crapped out during rush hour. Got arrested at a gig too, just weeks prior to the van theft. Major hassle. That sucked. I waited around for good drumming spots to open up for years and when they did, I got passed over. Twice. Never got me down though, I was disappointed upon hearing the news but I knew my time would come. Everything is great now but I can't say I've suffered, but I have definitely earned what I have now.
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Old 10-02-2011, 04:08 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

In some ways, my drumming career has been WAYYYY more valley than peak! I've had a few real setbacks over the years. Two were medical issues ( a car accident that almost killed me, screwed up my hands, etc., and the more recent ankle/tendon issue.) The other one was more emotional. I thought I was going to be a musician, pure and simple, when I left school. After trying for years, I wound up working in music retail, tech-ing, playing odd gigs, but never really getting anywhere. I was a decent enough drummer, but I found I didn't have the right temperament or personality to really make it in the industry. I'm not real aggressive and not a big risk-taker. I got frustrated and nearly quit the instrument, and got really depressed about it for a while. I got married and moved across the country and sold all my gear. But I never really quit playing, and before long I had a new kit, etc.

The upside to this story is that, once I stopped trying to "be a musician" I found out I was much happier with life. At some point I realized I AM a musician - it's a part of who I am, whether I make my primary living that way or not. I stopped torturing myself and began to enjoy the instrument again. Now I play regularly and gig as often as I like, for the most part.

I remember telling my high school guidance counselor, when he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, "I want to play drums." Well, I may not be famous, and I don't make my living at it, but all these years later I still play drums. Most importantly, I still WANT to.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:22 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
... once I stopped trying to "be a musician" I found out I was much happier with life. At some point I realized I AM a musician - it's a part of who I am, whether I make my primary living that way or not.
Me too. Once I lost my illusions of actually being paid to play music I'm free to just be myself on the drums. If I relied on music for money I'd be expert at cockroach recipes - stir fried roach garnished with carpet fluff, rat salad garnished with crispy fried roach legs ... lol


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Originally Posted by aydee View Post
Staying the course while being beaten down by your own limitations, or quitting on some things and coming to terms with that.
Absotively. First awakening was in 1980 when I made a step up. I eliminated a lot of half digested licks. Then in 1985 I was in a very tight band where no one was prone to errors or gear malfunctions. I needed to tidy up further. Once I tweezed my beats and licks to a point where I could play the songs note for note every time I was shocked to see how few things I could play without risk. Big reality check.

Still, I was raised in a waste-not-want-not household with few luxuries. I came to pride myself in being resourceful, to make the most from the least. So, strangely, being a very limited player suits my personality. Give me all the best gear and I don't know what to do with it. I'm much better at coaxing music out of a second rate kit than having the vision to build an expansive kit, playing extravagant music.

Abe, do you have a tale?
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:29 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
At some point I realized I AM a musician - it's a part of who I am, whether I make my primary living that way or not. I stopped torturing myself and began to enjoy the instrument again. Now I play regularly and gig as often as I like, for the most part.
Yeah, great quote, & applies to me too, but took me a few decades to work it out.

Abe, the truth is, I've only had one valley, & that was many years ago. It lead to me giving up playing, but it wasn't a single event. It was a succession of crap experiences, mostly at a human decency level rather than playing frustrations.
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Old 10-02-2011, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Perspective .... it's all perspective (for me). Every time I get into that "pity pot funk syndrome" my (higher power) blatantly puts into view some guy who's got it worse off ... and so it goes, if that guy can bear it .... then I can surely overcome "my" adversity.
I got to a point once, where, about all I could count on was my dog ... and the "unconditional love" he could offer me. And the fact that he had more faith in me than maybe I had in myself ...
As the saying goes ... "I felt bad that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."
I don't get to see many sunrises (simply because of the hours I keep) ... but I do enjoy the sunsets.
In the midst of the city ... I enjoy the moments of silence ... pretend the ever present freeway noise is the Pacific washing the beaches of Maui ... feel the "tradewinds" whenever the breeze blows ... even though, more likely, it's a Santa Ana wind.
As a drummer ... I'm very lucky ... to be able to play as long as I have ... consistently, somebody must like me ... even if I'm not Vinnie Colaiuta, or Taylor Hawkins ...
So right now, I spend half my day in a wheelchair ... I can still drum. Hopefully, I'll get a new right hip soon .... and ... if I make it thru that ... maybe I'll get a left one too. It is what it is, and it will be what it will be ....
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Old 10-02-2011, 12:07 PM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
.... once I stopped trying to "be a musician" I found out I was much happier with life. At some point I realized I AM a musician - it's a part of who I am, whether I make my primary living that way or not. I stopped torturing myself and began to enjoy the instrument again. Now I play regularly and gig as often as I like, for the most part....
Well said. Took me many, many years to get my head to this point as well. Now I love to play more than ever.

The comparing, bashing, complaining has for the most part been put way behind me (unless I feel the need to stand my ground on something extremely important).

I've been so extremely fortunate to have studied with so many great teachers and been given so many playing and teaching opportunities that I look now through the glasses at everyone who can play or works hard at learning how to play with admiration. I think many people have lost the ability to admire feeling the need to compare and judge.

For me, at this point the insatiable quest of improving drives me more than anything else in drumming. My wife and daughter provide the drive for me to live life. If I never played a gig again, I think I'd be fine with that.
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  #11  
Old 10-02-2011, 09:07 PM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PrimitivePatterns View Post
Sometimes I have days where I find the drumkit to just be a very noisy and cumbersome instrument.

I remedy this by playing around on other instruments usually.

Once you go bass, you go screaming back to drums (I kid... sorta)
You have no idea how close your comment is to my heart. I'm a ( frustrated ) bass player too.



Quote:
Originally Posted by uniongoon View Post
the gig pay scale has not changed in 30 years.
I have a good day job, gigs are far and few between, but I have the desire to keep practicing more, this is some form of self abuse.
self abuse and passion.. a thin line, I think?

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Originally Posted by HipshotPercussion View Post

In my small Washington state town, which is noted for its rich and varied music scene, the average gig pays $65+/-. 50 years ago, when I was in high school, the members of our band each took home more.

At least now I can drink.
Nothing heals like live music. It should be a part of medicare.


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Originally Posted by larryace View Post
I got my van stolen at a gig, lost gear, tools, got the van back, but the scumbags wrecked my transmission. That cost me 2500.00 a month later when it crapped out during rush hour. Got arrested at a gig too, just weeks prior to the van theft...., I got passed over. Twice. Never got me down though, .
Larry, I've followed your gigging adventures on the forum and I got to tell you, Im envious of your attitude.. I wish I had a little more of your positive git go.

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Originally Posted by IDDrummer View Post
In some ways, my drumming career has been WAYYYY more valley than peak! I've had a few real setbacks over the years. Two were medical issues ( a car accident that almost killed me, screwed up my hands, etc., and the more recent ankle/tendon issue.) The other one was more emotional. I thought I was going to be a musician, pure and simple, when I left school. After trying for years, I wound up working in music retail, tech-ing, playing odd gigs, but never really getting anywhere. I was a decent enough drummer, but I found I didn't have the right temperament or personality to really make it in the industry. I'm not real aggressive and not a big risk-taker. I got frustrated and nearly quit the instrument, and got really depressed about it for a while. I got married and moved across the country and sold all my gear. But I never really quit playing, and before long I had a new kit, etc.

The upside to this story is that, once I stopped trying to "be a musician" I found out I was much happier with life. At some point I realized I AM a musician - it's a part of who I am, whether I make my primary living that way or not. I stopped torturing myself and began to enjoy the instrument again. Now I play regularly and gig as often as I like, for the most part.

I remember telling my high school guidance counselor, when he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, "I want to play drums." Well, I may not be famous, and I don't make my living at it, but all these years later I still play drums. Most importantly, I still WANT to.
Thank you for this post, IDD.. its inspirational, wise, and a great lesson in self realization and perspective.

Last edited by aydee; 10-03-2011 at 05:38 PM.
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  #12  
Old 10-02-2011, 09:18 PM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: The valleys ?

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Originally Posted by Pollyanna View Post
Me too. Once I lost my illusions of actually being paid to play music I'm free to just be myself on the drums.

Abe, do you have a tale?

Pol, I can hear all of what you are saying in your playing including the bits that you underplay. You are a lot more of a drummer than you admit but I get where you're coming from.

My story... Im playing catch up with my drumming life ( as you know ) : )

Quote:
Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
It was a succession of crap experiences, mostly at a human decency level rather than playing frustrations.
Andy, Im somewhat familiar with your road to here, and I know of some of your life battles. You sir, are an inspiration and I wish others on the forum would hear some of your experiences as well some day.



Quote:
Originally Posted by harryconway View Post
Perspective .... I spend half my day in a wheelchair ... I can still drum. Hopefully, I'll get a new right hip soon .... and ... if I make it thru that ... maybe I'll get a left one too. It is what it is, and it will be what it will be ....
Another gent who is truly inspirational in a very quiet way. Harry, I hope you're making a lot of noise in the music room AND on the 'Zooki'!


Quote:
Originally Posted by dmacc View Post
My wife and daughter provide the drive for me to live life. If I never played a gig again, I think I'd be fine with that.
Sounds like you're in a great place, dmacc. Family support for one's passion is something one takes for granted, but its so valueable.


....

Last edited by aydee; 10-03-2011 at 05:37 PM.
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  #13  
Old 10-03-2011, 01:45 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

Kind of in a valley right now...was playing in 2 bands I really enjoyed, now playing once a week at church but no outside gigs. Couple of feelers from other bands, but no real calls, no auditions. Still have the desire to play but practicing only doesn't cut it...need the interaction with other musicians.

Oh well, just keep pluggin on!
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:39 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

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Originally Posted by SOGdrummer View Post
Kind of in a valley right now...was playing in 2 bands I really enjoyed, now playing once a week at church but no outside gigs. Couple of feelers from other bands, but no real calls, no auditions. Still have the desire to play but practicing only doesn't cut it...need the interaction with other musicians.

Oh well, just keep pluggin on!
Been there myself. Even called it quits for a year or so a while back. The valleys will always be there, but you have to be patient for the peaks to come your way. Just concentrate on being happy as a person, not as a drummer, and everything else will take care of itself.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by aydee View Post
..... I hope you're making a lot of noise .... on the 'Zooki'!
Not on mine yet (the hip job first) .... but I am in one now. With this rig, and my wheelchair, I'm almost unstoppable ...
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:20 PM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

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The challenges, physical, mental -- the seemingly impossible walls, the plateaus. Staying the course while being beaten down by your own limitations, or quitting on some things and coming to terms with that..
K, Abe, you're kind of asking for it here- if this is self-indulgent, it's not my fault:

I think for me it was the biggest struggle early on- I wasn't a real precocious talent, and there were a lot of times when I was obviously not the best drummer I knew. I don't think there was ever a time when I didn't think I was going to be able to survive professionally- there was never a question about giving up- I just wanted to be great.

My limitations were really of my own making- I accepted at a certain point that I was just a certain type of player, and I had natural strengths and weakness, and I was going to be OK with it. I hadn't given up on wanting to be a great artist, I was just modeling myself more after non-virtuosos like Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian, or older-school jazz musicians who basically did one thing really well. I was going to develop and play to my strengths and not waste time beating my brains out on my weaknesses. My problem during that period was that there were not that many players who knew what to do with me. I did get some respect for having a vision and a voice- and I guess some minor regional cachet as an artist guy- it just didn't translate into as much paying work as I would've liked.

So that was unnecessary. In recent years I decided what the hell, I got nothing better to do- I'm going to actually work on some of these settled areas of my playing. As it turns out, when you practice things you're not good at, you become good at them. It's not fun work, and it's hard to do when it conflicts with your supposed strengths, and when you have a lot of ideas about what you think is good, and about how you think the drums "should" be played.

Quote:
Would be great to hear some of your stories about some of the ugliness ( or self belief ) it took for you to get where you got.
Even stories about getting comfortable with what you wanted to accomplish, but couldn't would be really interesting.

Are you doing what you wanted to be doing on the drums ?
Yes, in that I always wanted to be a real drummer, and have finally gotten past my last hangups about feeling like an impostor. I still learn something every time I play, and am excited about where my playing is going to be ten years from now, or next month, even. Career-wise; eh, what the hell, like nearly every single other jazz musician, I live by Joey Baron's line "paying your rent is high art". I could always use MORE FAME AND MONEY, but I'm doing OK.
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Old 10-03-2011, 07:06 PM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: The valleys ?

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K, Abe, you're kind of asking for it here- if this is self-indulgent, it's not my fault:

I think for me it was the biggest struggle early on- I wasn't a real precocious talent, and there were a lot of times when I was obviously not the best drummer I knew. I don't think there was ever a time when I didn't think I was going to be able to survive professionally- there was never a question about giving up- I just wanted to be great.

My limitations were really of my own making- I accepted at a certain point that I was just a certain type of player, and I had natural strengths and weakness, and I was going to be OK with it. I hadn't given up on wanting to be a great artist, I was just modeling myself more after non-virtuosos like Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Paul Motian, or older-school jazz musicians who basically did one thing really well. I was going to develop and play to my strengths and not waste time beating my brains out on my weaknesses. My problem during that period was that there were not that many players who knew what to do with me. I did get some respect for having a vision and a voice- and I guess some minor regional cachet as an artist guy- it just didn't translate into as much paying work as I would've liked.

So that was unnecessary. In recent years I decided what the hell, I got nothing better to do- I'm going to actually work on some of these settled areas of my playing. As it turns out, when you practice things you're not good at, you become good at them. It's not fun work, and it's hard to do when it conflicts with your supposed strengths, and when you have a lot of ideas about what you think is good, and about how you think the drums "should" be played.



Yes, in that I always wanted to be a real drummer, and have finally gotten past my last hangups about feeling like an impostor. I still learn something every time I play, and am excited about where my playing is going to be ten years from now, or next month, even. Career-wise; eh, what the hell, like nearly every single other jazz musician, I live by Joey Baron's line "paying your rent is high art". I could always use MORE FAME AND MONEY, but I'm doing OK.
Great post Todd, and indulge away please- thats the whole idea; to bare some of what it took.I think so many musicians get down on themselves thinking they are the only ones facing demons.

A lot of what you say resonates with me. Years ago there was always a battle within about what I could play versus what I wanted to be able to play and often I would allow what i could play to win, because it worked and was easy.I'd get the gigs and the appreciation etc but it didnt silence the demons. Maybe the transition from being a rock n roll drummer to discovering the blues and then eventually jazz in my drumming lifetime is what made it so daunting.

But then I did what you did. Took it on till I got it. Yes, hard working, frustrating, boring, nose -to-the grindstone practice is what i put myself through, and often not believing that I'd pull it off, but then I did .. well, somewhat.


...
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:50 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

I'm a music major, like most others music majors, sometimes doubt and fear creeps in, I don't want to live in the streets, what if I'm not good enough, what if I never get the hang of this, then you look at the state of things, the music industry, how even high profile players are sometimes struggling and it's just so disheartening. Yet I'm still doing it because I made this desicion, I know this is where I want to be and if I where anywhere else, I'd be unhappy and filled with regret.

I come from a rock/metal background but my bacherlor's focused on jazz/latin drumming. There was a time where I didn't believe I could do it, me? jazz drumming? that's some whole other world you have to be born into so you can be a part of it, and that's not counting the theory stuff, yet eight months later here I am, practicing Riley's books and Dawson's teachings, constructing all kinds of seventh chords with extensions, learning to recognize the modal scales by ear and whatnot. I posted a video of me playing jazz recently and I got some positive feedback, it was so very encouraging to me, it gave me hope that I can actually do this.
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:03 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

What is disheartening to me is when I get a gig script, and it's a sound check at 4 pm, 45 miles away, and not playing til 8, so I'm stuck there, and hey looky here there's 3 Lady GaGa tunes on the script by, allegedly, buyer request, yay! That kinda thing takes the wind right out of my sails. I really need to learn to say no to some gigs.

Other than that, only bad gear gets me down. Buy good gear. When I have a bad practice, I still like it. I'm happy with my vocabulary on the drumset, and don't feel any of the old feelings of inadequacy that I used to get because the dude on before me played triple inverted zippadiddles on the double bass.
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:00 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

When I hit a valley, I think of the first real valley I ever hit.

I was 21, about 3/4 of the way through PIT. I was sitting on the floor of my drum room exhausted. Half my class had dropped out from the pressure. My ambitions to be a chops guy were gone; I wasn't anywhere close. My ambitions to be Mr Versatile was shot, because I sucked at Latin, barely got through big band, and my jazz left a lot to be desired.
It was very obvious no one was ever going to mention me in the same sentence as Dave Weckl or Terry Bozzio.

I thought to myself, "but you know what? Look at all the bands on the radio; they don't need a chops monster, they don't need Mr Versatile, they just need a solid guy who can get the job done." So I realized all was not lost. 2 and 4 was calling my name. I was determined to press on, graduate, and find a band. (which I did)

A week or so later, I was discussing this thought of just focusing on playing 2 and 4 with Doane Perry (of Jethro Tull), and he said "you know what? It's good that you have a direction you want to go in with your drumming". (Ironically, a year later I would be in a prog band that played in every time signature but 2 and 4, but that's another matter).

Anyhow, since then I have experienced valleys that have been deeper, and/or wider than that day, but any time I'm in a valley, I think to that day, that one day, when I realized it would still all be alright.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:51 AM
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Default Re: The valleys ?

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2 and 4 was calling my name.
lol ... a helluva loud call ... I could hear it clearly all the way over the Pacific ...
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