The New Learning Curve

I was a cop for 25 years. After a certain point, I could do that job in my sleep. It could be argued that I frequently did.

I knew what “911” callers wanted before I arrived. I was rarely surprised. Even as they talked, I probably heard every third word. I had solved their problem in less than a minute. I just found it best to let them vent. I found that helps. Otherwise, they keep talking even after you’ve offered your solution. Being a cop is not extraordinarily difficult, unless the cop chooses to make it so.

Well, that era of my life is done. I’m retired. I lead a new life centered in music journalism. Even I have to chuckle when I say that out loud. It’s not like I’m being paid for 90 percent of my efforts. But that’s what this year is about: getting myself and my work “out there” to the point where people who would pay for my efforts start knocking on my (figurative) door, offering me opportunities. How that goes remains to be seen.

My point today is this: I can no longer do my work on autopilot. In fact, strict attention must be paid, because more often than not, I have NO idea what I’m doing.

I’m 54 years old, and at least once a day I feel like I’m in kindergarten. Everything is new. Everything must be learned on the most fundamental level. I have an entire new learning curve sitting before me. I can research. I can interview. I can write. Putting all this material in the right place in the right way … that’s something else all together.

Add to this pile a future consisting of video reviews and an internet radio show. The heart wants. The mind is eager, but rather confused. Young minds are sponges. They absorb everything thrown at them. The middle-aged mind, I’m finding, is a bit more like a slightly porous brick. Some information may sink in, but a lot of it hits and slides down the side without sticking.

It’s not that I’m not willing to try. I’m not one of those old coots who crosses his arms and declares, “I don’t computer! You’re gonna have to show me how to do this MY way, ’cause I ain’t a-changing!” People like that drive me nuts! I’m eager to learn. I just wish I could do it faster. I have a metric TON of things to do. And the longer it takes me to learn, the farther behind I get. It’s more than a little frustrating.

It doesn’t help that thought processes from three separate sources are throwing information at me. Ableton. Audacity. AirTable. Descript. ProTools. Reaper. WavePad. Each bit of software I collect excites me in its own way. I’m eager to put the software to work. That’s easy. Learning how to use it is a bit more difficult. I feel like I’m learning to walk all over again. The simplest things have to be drilled into my head over and over and over before they stick. I don’t remember learning ever being this challenging.

My name is Cedric Hendrix, and I am a moron.

Mercifully, I have surrounded myself with patient and supportive friends. They are willing to take the time to teach me, and assure me that I can call when I get confused. They may come to regret that decision.

I know, I know … it’s all about repetition. It’s all about muscle memory. I get it, and it’s completely true. I guess I got too used to running on autopilot. I got to used to having the answer before bothering to ask the question. I have to go back to school. Luckily, I live in the Golden Age of Internet know-how. There’s nothing I can’t learn from a YouTube video should my friends find themselves a little too busy to lend a hand.

The day will come when I will be able to handle Chapter Two’s challenges in my sleep. I’ll know what I want to do and how to go about doing it, barely giving it conscious thought. Those will be happy, productive times.

Until the software gets upgraded, that is.

#cirdecsongs

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers. I’m currently working on my next book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

Would you like to have your album reviewed? Contact me at cirdecsongs@gmail.com

4 Comments

  1. A cool post. As an experienced retired guy, remember the 1st thing is to focus. Do not get sidetracked with too many shiny new distractions. Choose carefully or you’ll end up down a sinkhole. Been there… As for the audio programs, if I recall, you are a Mac guy. Do not discount the GarageBand/ Logic pairing. GarageBand is surprisingly versatile and you should already have it on your computer. If you need to really go the distance with advanced features, Logic is $200. Everything can be transferred easily. Otherwise (sound guy tech talking), while everything you mention is good, Audacity is free ( but a bit clunky) and ProTools has a huge user base ( but…bucks…)

    Cheering you on from the sidelines, as always,

    Laurence

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I salute you for what you’re doing, Cedric.

    It takes guts to “start over” when you’re a certain age. Not sure I would have that in me. We’re the same age, btw.

    Most importantly, I’m getting a sense you truly love what you’re doing now. And that I think will motivate you to keep going and learn the things you need to get to where you’d like to be.

    Rock on!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant post, Ced. I’d like to nominate it for an award. But proper blogging awards seem to have died out. So you’ll just have to be content with the Crotchety Man Blog Post of the Month medal. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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