The co-founder of string-field theory, theoretical physicist and best-selling author Michio Kaku suggests we try to develop our abilities to their fullest. His latest book, Physics of the Future,
The co-founder of string-field theory, theoretical physicist and best-selling author Michio Kaku suggests we try to develop our abilities to their fullest. His latest book, Physics of the Future, peers into human life circa 2100.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. —Albert Camus
I was going through one of those existential crises where you spend a few weeks of sleepless nights torturing yourself with unanswerable questions like: Is my life meaningless? What the hell am I doing? Does anything really matter?
Eventually, I did what any spiritually bankrupt person with internet access does—I googled “What is the meaning of life?" Predictably, the interwebs provided buckets of inspiring quotes, psycho-babble rants, links to desperate girls with low self-esteem, and a painting of Christopher Walken building Optimus Prime. (Seriously, the latter is bizarrely awesome— google the image if you dare.)
Ultimately, I lighted upon a self-appointed motivational guru with an article entitled “Don't Die with Your Music Still in You." It seemed appropriate enough, so I gave it a 3 a.m. read and found:
To abandon a comfortable lifestyle that isn't deeply fulfilling is to abandon nothing. There's nothing of real substance there to protect. An income, a car, a house, or a lifestyle is not worth protecting if the cost of such protection is your own fulfillment and happiness. People who achieve some of the external trappings of success without internal fulfillment are only living an illusion when they tell themselves they have something of value to protect.
This made perfect sense, as if God or ghosts or the (until now) indifferent Universe was speaking directly to me. People die every minute, having lived their lives of quiet desperation and unfulfilling servitude, never experiencing the joys that life held for them had they followed a more risky path. It got me thinking about making some radical changes.
Thankfully I went to sleep without quitting my gig or calling old bandmates and setting some misguided course for a new life direction. In the morning, I realized that this is the kind of pop-psych-feel-goodery that one should not read while sleep deprived, vaguely unsatisfied, and perhaps a bit buzzed. This web swami (who apparently gleaned most of his shtick from self-help tapes while serving time for a felony) ignored the fact that most of us actually need to earn money every month.
Life is not a smorgasbord where you put only the most delectable bits on your plate. Life is a package deal. You want absolute freedom to pursue only your passions? Then you either must already be rich or okay with being very poor and a burden to those around you.
We all love the idea of betting on ourselves and winning big, but sometimes even when you win, you lose. Yes, Paul Gauguin had incredible posthumous success, but his wife and five kids suffered horribly after he quit his job and abandoned them to paint naked natives in French Polynesia. Gauguin spent most of his artist years depressed and suicidal. He died at 54 of a morphine overdose—broke, ostracized, syphilitic, and waiting to serve time in prison. People look at Gauguin's work and forget that his is a cautionary tale. Sometimes following your dream can be a nightmare.
Beware of “sages" who imply that earning a paycheck and building a home is beneath you. As musicians, we tend to be susceptible to this hippy-dippy nonsense.
I use to think that all I wanted was to write songs and play music, but with a wife and son and no trust fund, I had to sneak that dream in on my down time while working to pay bills and spending quality time with my family. I've had dry spells in my career where, to feed my family, I took soul-crushing jobs as a waiter, a telemarketer, a roofer, a landscaper, a teacher, a bread-truck driver, and a pawnbroker. I'd get home from whatever crap job I had at the time, play with my great kid, have a family dinner and maybe a walk and a talk, maybe watch The Simpsons or play a game. After the bedtime story, when my son was asleep and his mama was lost in a book, I'd have 30 minutes to work on music before I passed out from exhaustion.
This was nothing I ever imagined I'd do, and yet it remains my life's greatest work— far better than any TV show, record, or tour that I've been part of when my career is going well. Life is a package deal, but as mundane as the package may seem, all of the parts can fit together more perfectly and wonderfully than you could ever plan on your own. Happiness and fulfillment isn't about getting what you want, but rather making the most of what you're lucky enough to have and not undermining your self-worth by comparing yourself to others.
Here's something to ponder from theoretical physicist Michio Kaku:
Beyond work and love, I would add two other ingredients that give meaning to life. First, to fulfill whatever talents we are born with. However blessed we are by fate with different abilities and strengths, we should try to develop them to the fullest, rather than allow them to atrophy and decay. We all know individuals who did not fulfill the promise they showed in childhood. Many of them became haunted by the image of what they might have become. Instead of blaming fate, I think we should accept ourselves as we are and try to fulfill whatever dreams are within our capability. Second, we should try to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. As individuals, we can make a difference, whether it is to probe the secrets of Nature, to clean up the environment and work for peace and social justice, or to nurture the inquisitive, vibrant spirit of the young by being a mentor and a guide.
Now you're talkin' words I can understand, Michio!
John Bohlinger is a Nashville multi-instrumentalist
best know for his work in television, having lead the band for all six
season of NBC's hit program Nashville Star, the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 CMT Music Awards, as well as many specials for GAC, PBS, CMT, USA and HDTV.
John's music compositions and playing can be heard in several major label albums, motion pictures, over one hundred television spots and Muzak... (yes, Muzak does play some cool stuff.) Visit him at youtube.com/user/johnbohlinger
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.