Thursday, December 9, 2010

This Ain't Your Father's Music

Sebastian Ignacio Navarro was not born into a wealthy family. His parents were immigrants from Latin America and he and his sister were the first generation of their family born in the United States. Naturally, Spanish was Sebastian's first language, and he didn't learn English until it was time to go to school. His mother started teaching him English in the months prior to school so he could avoid the culture shock that she experienced when she came to this country. Children at that age learn very quickly, so it wasn't difficult for him to learn English, and to this day Sebastian considers both English and Spanish his native languages.
Technically, being Hispanic makes one a minority, but growing up in an urban area just outside of New York City, the lines between "minority" and "majority" are very, very blurred. While the Navarros were not wealthy, they certainly did work hard to provide a comfortable life for Sebastian and his younger sister.
Early in his childhood, Sebastian showed an interest in music. As any young child would do, he would bang on pots and pans in the kitchen, but the real interest began to manifest itself when he would sing church hymns at around 2 years old. Growing up in a Baptist church, the natural venue to showcase this emerging talent was of course, at church. And so, as cliche as it seems, Sebastian was singing in church from a very young age.
Sebastian's parents were able to enroll him in piano lessons around the first grade, and this would prove to be a valuable decision for his later life. His father, Roberto, was particularly fond of classical music and especially loved the piano and the violin. Although he did not play any instruments himself, and never professed to any musical inclinations, he always played classical music in the house and Sebastian grew up with that influence.
By the time middle school had rolled around piano lessons had ended for Sebastian. Now he found himself playing the trumpet, an instrument that he was embarrassed to practice because it was so loud. In addition to not really being that good at that instrument, he didn't really have an interest in practicing at all, so he slowly languished in those skills and in music in general. In those days he got mild encouragement from his mother and none really from his father, when it came to musical endeavors, so it was extremely difficult to find any motivation to pursue it. It is only now, as an older man, that Sebastian can look back on that time of his life and realize, this is where his real insecurities began.
When he started high school, Sebastian discovered the bass guitar. Now, he knew that even though it looked similar to the guitars his friends in school were learning to play, this was not the same as theirs. Strangely, that dichotomy between the familiar and different appealed to his nature. When he began to play it he discovered that he really enjoyed the sound. The low frequencies appealed to him and weren't as grating as the trumpet was. Sebastian was enamored and absolutely enthralled with this instrument, which began to awaken his passion for music. Up to now he had not known anything for which he had a passion. At the hands of condescending music teachers and amidst mediocre encouragement at home Sebastian had lost his interest in music almost completely. Now, with this new instrument he discovered his life's passion. He felt alive with the possibilities of playing music for fun, for money, and forever. This now, was his life.
Sebastian practiced for hours on end after school. He read books and articles and anything else he could get his hands on in an effort to learn more about the bass, and music in general. It was clear to himself and everyone around him that this was his new focus for life. Sebastian was a musician.
Sebastian is still a musician. Now into adulthood he still carries that same passion for music and for the bass. He also still carries insecurities about his music and his instrument. Overcoming one's insecurities is no easy task. He found it to be an everyday battle, one that he loses on some days. At certain points in his life Sebastian has felt the need to prove himself - to himself, to his teachers, to his peers. At thirty years of age, he still struggles to prove himself and overcome those insecurities about music, and other things. In his younger years he may not have known himself well enough to know all his self-doubt or where they came from. Now he knows, the first person he felt he had to prove himself to, was his father. In his adult life, Sebastian knows himself a bit better, and that makes his struggle fractionally easier.

There is more of Sebastian's story, for a later time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Ghost

At thirty years old, Sebastian didn't really know what to make of his life. As a matter of fact, he really only knew that he wasn't exactly happy with the way his life had turned out so far. To him it seemed the past ten years had been something of a waste. Of course, one always learns something in ten years, but Sebastian felt like he really had nothing to show for it, except his "list of regrets."
In matters of love, Sebastian was relatively late to the game. He had mostly been extremely shy and nervous around girls. He never had the self confidence to be able to strike up a conversation out of thin air. His first kiss wasn't even until he was seventeen! He was certainly interested in girls, and while he never considered himself a womanizer (and certainly never wanted to be viewed as one) he did sometimes tend to be flirtatious with certain girls. However, he found that when it came to girls that he was actually interested in, his nerves and fear of rejection held a firm grip on his conversational skills.
His first serious relationship had led him to fall truly in love, at least this is how he felt. As it turns out, this was only Sebastian's second girlfriend, ever. Her name was April, and thoughts of her consumed his mind. They had met while he was still in high school and the relationship continued into his early college years. Finding some more freedom in college he would, at times, skip classes to spend time with April. He might leave the campus early to go pick her up for a dinner date, or miss an early morning class to be able to spend the morning with her. Reflecting back, Sebastian would eventually store those times in his "list of regrets."
A year and a half into this totally committed relationship, April found that she was pregnant, and this would change both of their lives. Nine months later, their lives did change, and she moved away to be able to live with her parents. Sebastian and April had, of course, talked about getting married, but neither were ready for that, and sadly this was the most feasible option at the time. However, they decided that after some months Sebastian would come to where April was and they would get a civil ceremony marriage to, at least, make it official. Details of living arrangements, and financial issues would have to wait for these two young, and desperate, lovers. The important thing at that time was to "do the right thing." So after a few months had passed, Sebastian gathered his necessary papers, and clothes enough for about two weeks, and travelled to April's parents' house. In the months leading up this, and certainly during the trip itself, Sebastian struggled with the prospect of marriage. He knew not to take such matters lightly. He knew in reality he wasn't ready, both emotionally, and certainly not financially. He also knew that he was madly in love with April, and despite all his doubts he was ready to give up his own life to start a new one with her. He was sure of only that fact.
"I don't think we should get married. I don't think I love you that way and I don't want to make a huge mistake."
Surely this cannot be how she told him the news that had apparently been working in her mind for several months. Actually, she probably didn't utter these exact words, nevertheless, this is how Sebastian perceived it. He was heartbroken, truly heartbroken. This was not the kind of conversation he had been expecting. He had been preparing himself mentally, and emotionally, to make a huge sacrifice, and he felt betrayed that she would let him carry on believing they were to be married while she had serious doubts, even of their love (of which he had, up to now, no doubts.)
Sebastian left, heartbroken, depressed, and a changed man. He couldn't have known then, how greatly this had affected him. This too, was added to Sebastian's "list" but remained a subconscious ghost haunting his future relationships. Now at thirty years old he found someone whom he could actually love, that would love him back. Sadly though, that ghost persisted and it skewed Sebastian's perception of love. He feared having to add more to his "list"; but that fear caused the very thing he feared.

This is a story for another time.