Tonight at the grocery store, the cashier misspoke. Handing me the receipt, she told me, "Enjoy the rest of your life." That is my intention.
Sometimes people look back at their high school or college glory days and say that was the best time of their life. Those were good days for me, and college in particular was the best time of my life…until now. I've had some unpleasant years, including my short and spectacularly bad career as a band director and my last year or so in the Air Force. (Nothing against the Air Force. I was just in a bad situation.) Don't even get me started on Cleveland.
These days, I'm finding that I spend my time mostly on things I like to do. I still enjoy music engraving, which is still my main source of income. I spend a lot of my days practicing guitar and rehearsing with a variety of groups, including a jazz combo, an originals band, and a big band. I'm slowly but steadily making inroads in the Atlanta music scene, and my gig calendar is full. My roster of private students is growing steadily as well, and I'm confident that by the end of the year, teaching will make up a respectable percentage of my income.
My weight and health issues are finally under control. I'm at a healthy weight, looking and feeling better than I have in years, and feeling more confident in general. I originally began running to accelerate my weight loss, but running has now become more than just a means to stay healthy. I love running nearly as much as I love music, and I look forward to my "running mornings."
I've made more friends in the past two years than I made in the previous ten years. Without even trying, I seem to have connected with the right people at the right time. Part of this is because I'm meeting more people as I play more gigs, but most of it is because I've removed some emotional barriers that I've always used to keep people at arm's length.
Even though my yearly income places me squarely in the "poor" category, I am rich in friends and music, and I plan on nurturing and growing this special kind of wealth as the years roll on. I had a good laugh at the cashier's slip of the tongue, but I became more grateful for what I have as I thought about her words. Whatever your situation is, whatever your passions are, I hope that you, too, will enjoy the rest of your life.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.