Yesterdays passing of PJ, an employee of the now defunct “Oktober Guitars” in Maryland, brought up a lot of talk in the forum about how we spend our time here on Earth. PJ wasn’t a member here yet, but I have no doubt that he would’ve loved it, because he was just like us.
His story was tragic, and when I told it, it made everyone sad… but that wasn’t the reaction that I was going for. How do you write about death, while inspiring your audience to feel good and be happy? I don’t know… but I do believe that is how we should respond, and certainly what PJ would’ve wanted.
Many of us are career Heavy Metal musicians, so we’re no strangers to aggressive lyrics about tragedy and bad luck… As such, you’d think that we’d be more prepared for them when they occur… But the odd thing is; no matter how smart I’ve ever felt, or how prepared I’ve ever been.. I never seem to see the light when things are dark.
If you’re like me, then you hate the generic, cliche BS that people throw at you when you’re in trouble (and they’re not). But since it’s unavoidable, find a way break the cycle and be better.
While talking with Rattbones yesterday, I was throwing a lot that generic advice out there myself. I think that it’s instinct to want to help others, but I believe that the line is drawn exactly after that sentence. Yes you may want to help, but simply saying “I’m sorry for your loss”, well that’s just not helping at all.
The outcome isn’t what matters in life… it’s how you handle the situation that matters. PJ has passed, that’s the outcome… How I handle it is how you will judge me. So what good is it if I mourn him for the day, and then simply go back about my business on the following?
We all aspire to leave a big impact on the world, so I can’t imagine that I’d be doing PJ justice by being plain. This is my opportunity to find happiness in sadness, and all that’s required is for me to care enough to try.
PJ left a lot behind that can bring others joy for the rest of their lives. He especially loved to build and play guitars, and since we live for music, we’re enamored by his collection. No doubt that would make PJ grin from ear to ear.
Through his guitars, we can make PJ’s spirit echo on, and to me, that’s a genuine gesture to his family, as well as a refreshing perspective on making the best of the worst.
Most of us cherish a few inanimate objects… maybe a little more than we should, but it’s a tough world, so you have to adore what gets you through the day. If that’s a guitar, then so be it.
Music has a massive impact on the world, and we are the proud few whom realize that making music is the greatest feeling of all. Our instruments are our companions through life, so we protect them just as we do our families. As a result, you can’t help but wonder what will become of them when you pass on.
I’ve often thought about this over the years, and until PJ passed, I just assumed that family would get them, but that got me thinking… That means my guitar will likely wind up forgotten in a dark, attic or basement… or worse yet… a nameless piece on the wall in a pawn shop.
That is definitely not what I want.
Going back and forth with Tony from Oktober yesterday, I realized that what would really make me happy, is being able to put a smile on the face of someone who would otherwise not be able to smile. That’s the person who’ll cherish my guitar, and never forget who I was or what I did for them.
In this situation, I’m fortunate enough to be the person in need of a smile. And since one of PJ’s guitars is on it’s way to me from his family, even though he’s gone, he’s going to do something incredible for someone who will never forget it.
I will love this guitar like PJ did, and every time that I see or hear it, I’ll be inspired by its ability to make beautiful music… Every time that I show it off to other musicians, I’ll tell the story of PJ… And now that I’ve written this, whoever inherits it from me will know that it’s far more than a mere pile of wood and parts.
So whenever you see one of PJ’s guitars and you hear the story of that goes along with it, don’t be sad, and whatever you do, don’t pass on any generic condolences to me. Honor the men who made it and those before you who played it, by making the world a better place with it.
Help whoever you can, whenever you can, and be grateful for what you have. Never forget the sacrifices that others make so that you can have what you do, and do your best to give some one less fortunate a chance that they never would’ve had otherwise.
I adore this bass… and with PJ’s passing, it has found its way to my hands. My life is now better… and I intend to make a lot of people smile with it… Starting with PJ.