This is 17-year-old me with Cedar Walton, taken fifteen years ago on October 4th, 2002.
I was very very fortunate to get to perform a set with Mr Walton on the night this picture was taken, in the rhythm section for the NiteCap vocal jazz group at Capilano College. But the truth is that while I must have been good enough at playing the bass to be given the opportunity, I was so cripplingly self-conscious that I was not capable of simply relaxing and enjoying making music with this legendary musician and generous soul. I kept it together in front of everyone, and smiled for this picture, but I was an absolute mess inside. As soon as I could manage it after our set was over, I climbed up to the theatre's catwalk to hide. I sat up there and cried and cried as I watched the second half of the concert, alone, thinking of how horribly I'd played, how stupid I must have looked in front of this iconic former Jazz Messenger, how much better than me everyone else was, and how foolish I was to think I might have what it takes to make a career in music.
A few weeks later I heard a recording of the concert, and I was utterly shocked by how not-horrible it sounded. That provided some helpful insight that those negative voices in my head weren't necessarily telling me the truth, or anything helpful at all. But it certainly took many years, a lot of work and perseverance, and plenty more tears to get to a point where it's now rare that they speak up and interfere, especially in a musical context (full disclosure: I'm still not as confident in non-musical situations as I would like to be ☺). When I encounter people who beat themselves up despite how much they have to offer, I tend to be reminded of 17-year-old me crying on the catwalk, and I wish I could help them see their value and potential. I know from looking back at my younger self that telling someone they're amazing when they think they're worthless isn't necessarily very helpful... so it's my hope that sharing this story might be of greater help than that to anyone reads it and identifies with it. 🌟
Phew, that was scary! Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. 💛