I finished my first recording project of 2011 this week, and I was really taken aback by how the moment came and went without much internal fanfare. I usually experience some kind of an afterglow, the length of which seems to approximate the half-life of radioactive material. If I worked on something for a year, I would be thrilled about the completion of it for at least six months, and then exceedingly happy for another three, and then maybe just normal happy for another month and a half, and so on. I’m not sure exactly what’s different this time, but I’m actually thrilled about not being thrilled.
It’s not that I’m not excited, or that I’m not pleased with the outcome. It might be that instead of really concentrating for a short period of time, I had to spread this out in little patches due to just the busyness of my current everyday life. My brain and body can’t calculate a proper celebratory half-life, so they just ditched it entirely. Or maybe I have too many other things queued up to do next that it doesn’t feel like I’m “done,” so I am now somehow creating chemical blockers in my brain that stop the euphoria and keep me focused on the assembly line.
Or maybe I just had so much fun doing it that I’m kind of bummed that the work is over.
I remember watching the ABC Wide World of Sports intro when I was a kid. If you watch the evolution of that intro over the next almost 10 years, the clips of the athletes all change except for one—the skier doing the long jump as he completely misses his take-off and just goes flailing down the mountain as Jim McKay says, “…and the agony of defeat.” I can’t say that I would rather be THAT guy, since his mistake most likely caused enough physical pain to stop him from going right back up to the top of the mountain and try again. And I have no interest in deliberately flubbing takes just so I can do another one. Recording is hard enough without bringing stupid into it. But now I keep pushing myself for those better takes, and I am getting better at knowing when I have one to give.
Sometimes, though, I just wish there was another part to lay down when I know there isn’t. And I think that’s where this new strange thrill is coming from. It’s not wasted energy anymore, it’s just the next song. It’s always the next song.