Today you are 20.

A nice, even number, divisible by ten. And two and five and four. And even 2.5.

If only life’s puzzles and problems were so easy to divide and conquer. You though, you have the ability and agility to navigate through. I am certain of that. Circumstances out of your control and liking have appeared on your horizon. Yet you will continue to move ever forward.

I remember the day I knew. Knew you were more than the average musical kid. Knew you would travel the route you’ve headed down. A December day, 2006. Sixth grade. The announcement you’d made All County. Via percussion, which is a bit ironic now. First chair. After only playing drums and mallet instruments four months.

And here you are. A musician. A classical guitarist. An artist. A pianist.

People comment artists are flaky. Not dependable. Aloof and unaware. Unkempt. You however, do not fit that bill.

I have not met a more dedicated person to his craft. Nor one more disciplined. You recently played Bach for an Eastman School of Music guitar professor. And were complimented. And hearing that, I again was reminded. You’re on the right path.

I hope you learn to be open. Not with everyone. Not with many. But with the few who care. I hope you let some special people into your life. Into your life as a musician, your life as an artist, into your life as the person you are at your very core. Your soul. Your music will always be great. Technically proficient. Because you practice hours a day. But to play from your soul you might just need to open up a window and take a risk. Let yourself feel.

I hope you use adversity to your advantage. Let your sadness become beauty for someone else. If you do, you most likely will not be sad as long. Share your pain and share your joy, in the way only you can. Musically.

That’s what I believe you were put on this earth to do.

I love you like only your mother ever could. Happy birthday James.

lil James with guitar

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