Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lyrics or Music

Which Comes First?

Sometimes people ask me about my writing process and one question I get quite a bit is “which comes first, the lyrics or the music”. My answer has changed over the years.

Here’s the long answer:

I used to write music and lyrics together, more or less line by line, but for the past several years, it's almost always been lyrics first, or at least most of the lyrics first. Partly this is because I write at night and my wife is a light sleeper and partly just how my process has evolved.

I usually have some rhythm or basic tune in my head while I'm writing the lyrics, but that can change when I pull out the guitar, which I do when I'm either done with the lyrics or at an impasse where I feel the momentum of playing the guitar might suggest a way through.

The process usually goes something like this:

I carry small squares of scratch paper with me at all times. I’ll get some kind of inspiration, maybe it’s an idea for a song, maybe just a line or two, or an interesting phrase, which I of course write down.

I then go over these pieces of paper later and see if they still feel promising. I then see if I can add anything, another line or a rhyme, anything to help it along. I add further verses or ideas on more pieces of paper and clip them together with similar material. I usually have many of these little bundles going at any particular time.

When I go to write, I just pull out my stack of clipped together works in progress and see if any of them grab me, starting at the top of the stack. If so, I see what I can add, if not, I go to the next one. Once I’ve got what I think is enough for a complete song, I’ll pull out the guitar and see what feels right to go with what I’ve written.

When it’s starting to really take shape, I then write the lyrics to the song in a notebook and from there I type them into my computer. It somehow helps me to remember the lyrics when I first write them by hand in the notebook first. I’m not sure why.

At that point I start to play the song in public, usually at an Open Mike but not always. Sometimes I debut a song at an actual gig, but I prefer Open Mikes. As I play the song out the first several times, it usually changes a bit. The tempo might slow down or pick up or the lyrics might change here and there to better fit the phrasing and timing as the song gets broken in. Before too long the song sort of “gels” into its more or less final version which I then record when I start my next album.

Sometimes I go to write and I’m just not into it. I feel like doing something productive though, so I’ll pull out all my idea bundles and good lines and stuff and sort through them all. I’ll usually divide them into categories like, strong prospects that are at or getting close to the place where working on them with guitar might be in order, ideas that need more work but are still promising, interesting lines and un-fleshed out ideas, stuff I’m not excited about but think maybe I’ll be more into down the line a bit, and stuff I’m just not into at all which I usually throw away. The rest I separate into piles that I can dive into when I’m in that particular mood.

The next time I go to write, I can grab the pile that’s almost done and, if it’s getting late, polish or add to the lyrics, or if it’s not, get out my guitar and see what happens. Or I can grab the pile of half-finished prospects and see if any of them inspire me to move them along a bit further. Or I can look over my barely fleshed out ideas and see if any of them inspires me to dig in and develop them more. Or I can dive into the pile of ideas that left me cold the last time I looked and see if anything has changed.

This is a more organized approach than when I was younger when I mostly worked on songs that emotionally demanded to be written. A lot of my emotionally driven songs are out of my system now and I find I’m more interested in ideas, releasing a charge for myself, word-play and capturing certain states of mind and body. I’m not trying to write good or pleasing songs really. That’s secondary. The main thing for me is to write a satisfying song, a song I feel better for having written.

My current approach serves my goals very well. In the world and in my thoughts, I listen for sounds, ideas, phrases and combinations of words that release a charge for me, that is to say, give me this large or small “yes” feeling. I don’t need to know why or what it’s about. All I need to know is that there’s a release of charge. I trust that if that’s the case the meaning behind that release will come in its own time. I just see if I can add to the initial phrase or idea in a way that also releases a charge or amplifies a previous one. As I build my lyrics, sometimes I have no idea what the song is really about, but as I go, it becomes more and more clear and then voila, I suddenly know. Other times I know what I want to say, I just have to find the right words, rhymes and rhythms to best make it happen. I feel kind of like I’m trolling in the world of my unconscious mind, relying on my sense of what feels most deeply right, collecting and connecting bits and pieces of inspiration and then patching them together into songs that express what I feel and think as my life unfolds.

Here’s the short answer: Usually it’s lyrics first, then music.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Embrace The Adventure.

If you’ve studied any art consistently over a period of many years, whether it’s songwriting and T’ai-Chi I have, calligraphy or painting or dance, you know about detours in your practice. Detours are where you can’t go to the place you want to go in your art without taking a more circuitous path than the one you wanted to take.

The most obvious example would be injuries. You’re ready to go in a new direction or even just continue in the one you’re going, but you injure some part of your body that demands you take a detour. Suddenly you have to paint with your left hand, or half as often as you’d like, or with only certain brush strokes, or only at a certain speed.

Another example would be when you want to take a step forward that requires a step back. For instance jumping higher might involve a return to basic postural alignment.

As tough and as frustrating as it can be to take a detour, I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that while detours are not always pleasant, they do get me where I want to go and often much the better for having taken them.

Maybe it’s surrendering my usual control of my direction…surrendering to what’s actually happening and not on what I want to make happen…maybe it’s something about focusing on the moment and task at hand…something about slowing down and paying more attention…something about being on a bit of an adventure rather than on a well laid out track….I’m not sure what it is exactly, but something about detours, I find very valuable and helpful to my overall practice.

Sometimes I don’t even know where the detour is or how to get to it. I just know I can’t go on the way I’m going. Sometimes I have to send feelers down 10 different alleys…10 different song ideas or movement possibilities before the best or most open way becomes apparent. I don’t see any point in sitting at the road block or detour sign complaining…I try to think and act like water when it meets an obstacle…It’s time to find another way. Even if I can’t move or see a thing…I keep looking…and soon enough, the detour appears.

And besides, there’s always infinite room for improvement anyway. How far I get is not as important to me as what I learn and enjoy along the way. Detours are just another opportunity to extract value from life. I may curse them at first, but then I usually just pick up my stuff and continue on my way.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"90 Percent Of Life Is...

Just Showing Up."

I treat all gigs the same, no matter what they look like. You never know who's listening. It might be a weird little podcast with two viewers, both of whom are the host's cousins....and one of them might book people on a major stage or be looking for music for a movie. You just never know.

I focus on the work at hand, which is the one thing I have a little control over. I've seen bands give half-hearted performances because "no one" showed up, and I always think, Gee, I hope you guys have day jobs…

I once played a benefit show at a friend of mine’s kid’s school. I was playing in a room with a bake sale going on, coffee, kids running around, games and face painting in the halls…I had anywhere from no one to 6 or 7 people listening at any one time. This was the kind of gig a lot of musicians wouldn't even take, but I didn’t care. It was a chance to play and I showed up to see what might happen. I played my best, had some fun, made a few bucks in tips and, as I was packing up to leave, the sound guy, whose kids happened to go to that school, came over to tell me that he booked the Main Stage at our premiere venue here in the Rogue Valley and that we should talk about me playing there sometime. (!) I had auditioned for him for two hours without even knowing it. Two years later this connection led to the best and biggest show of my entire musical career.

I think Woody Allen said it first, that 90% of life is just showing up and I totally concur. A character in the Dilbert comic strip put it this way: Success is attendance plus luck. Thomas Edison supposedly said: The harder I work, the luckier I get. The way I see it, opportunities to connect with people who will like what I do are shooting around all the time, kind of like bullets. The more I show up, the better my chances of being “hit” by one of these bullets. It may not be the best tactic for someone who’s young, ambitious, impatient with perhaps a limited shelf life, but for someone like me who’s older, not so ambitious, very patient and not even on the shelf, “showing up” has been working great.

And by showing up, I don't mean doing the bare minimum and dragging your ass to things. I mean being out in the world doing what you do in the places where what you do is being done. If you're a musician, that means playing music wherever and whenever you can, in places where people might hear you. If you're an actor, that means auditioning and being in the places where people who might be looking for actors are looking. If you're looking for work that means having a resumé and applying for jobs, maybe even volunteering somewhere until one comes through.

Showing up means making connections, being seen, being around when someone needs what you offer or is offering what you need. I can't tell you how many private lessons I got from my T'ai-Chi teacher over the 13 years I trained with him, simply because the weather was bad or whatever, and I was the only one who showed up for class.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Ambition

photo by Ezra Marcos ( )

Is To Continue...

I searched the definition of "ambitious" and "ambition" this morning and here are some of the results:

“Possessing, or controlled by, ambition; greatly or inordinately desirous of power, honor, office, superiority, or distinction.

Strongly desirous; -- followed by of or the infinitive; as, ambitious to be or to do something.

Springing from, characterized by, or indicating, ambition; showy; aspiring; as, an ambitious style.”

“An earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.

The object, state, or result desired or sought after.

Desire for work or activity; energy.”

“Having ambition, eagerly desirous of achieving or obtaining success, power, wealth, a specific goal, etc.

Strongly desirous; eager.

Requiring exceptional effort, ability, etc.”

“Having a strong desire for success or achievement; wanting power, money, etc.

Necessitating extraordinary effort or ability.

Having a great desire (for something or to do something).”

At least by these definitions, I don't consider myself very ambitious.

I know I work hard and I'm organized and the things I do are also done by ambitious people, but I don't feel driven towards any particular goal or to achieve any particular level of success of fame. Just doing it is reward enough. I don't feel like I'm reaching for anything either. Just putting my stuff out there and seeing what comes back.

For instance, this year was my best year ever musically, but I have no expectations that next year will be anything like it. I don't find myself at all hopeful. I'm not despairing either, but definitely not hopeful. I don't have the sense that next year will build on this year, or should. I'll just continue to do what I'm doing and see what comes back. If anything, I usually expect that things will get worse and I'm genuinely surprised if they don't.

A lot of people have a hard time accepting this about me. They think that if they were doing what I'm doing, they'd be ambitious, so therefore I must be. But unless it's pretty damn unconscious, I just don't feel it. I'm not indifferent to people liking what I do. I love when people like what I do. But I'm not hungry for it and I don't need for it to happen and it's not my goal to be liked. My goal is to make music and teach T'ai-Chi and see what happens when I do that.

That's my ambition, to continue doing that. In a sense, OK, that means I'm ambitious. But it's not in the everyday sense of how the word is used, or in the way it's defined above. I used to be very ambitious. I wanted to be famous, liked, rich, James Taylor, etc. I was pretty miserable and competitive and pretty bitter when it didn't happen. But since I let all that go sometime in the mid 00’s, I've never had more fun doing music and never been less attached to what comes of it.

I never ask, Will this opportunity further my career? I usually ask, Does this opportunity feel right? or, Will this opportunity be fun? When I opened for America this Summer, people were asking me, "What if America wants you to tour with them?" My answer was, "That is highly unlikely and I almost certainly would not be interested, unless it was for a very short 3 or 5 gig leg. I hate traveling and the life that produces the music I love is this one, not that one."

Anyway, I know this all sounds defensive and who knows? it might be, but it's also in the interest of accuracy and clarity, both with myself and with others that I say it.

If I was more ambitious, always thinking about how each gig, benefit or open mike appearance would affect my career, if I was always strategizing about things like not over-saturating a given market, or getting the maximum bang out of every expenditure of musical energy, or steering my career in a definite pre-planned direction, my life would be very different.

I’m not sure exactly how different or in what ways but I think it would be along these lines:

I might have more and better gigs, or perhaps fewer but better gigs.

I might make more money, get more attention and have more people like me and my music.

I might get to hang out with other more successful people, both socially and artistically.


I might miss all the little casual fun no-ego jam sessions among like minded, in-it-for-the-pleasure of making music, kindred spirits. I’d either not be there in the first place because I was “above” such things, or I’d be there but not really present enough to enjoy myself.

I might miss actually hearing and appreciating the music of my peers which can be really hard to do when I feel in direct competition with them or focused on my own aspirations.

I might miss the kinds of connections with everyday people that a climbing musician might not want to be seen hanging out with.

I might feel more distant from the people who like my music. I might hold them more at arms length for all kinds of reasons.

I might miss being able to tune into my body, feel how it really feels and take care of it. When my attention is acutely tuned to things going on outside of me, things that are changing, “important” and competitively charged, I have a hard time connecting to my own body and attending to its needs. Hanging out at a community musical event with no feeling of self-consciousness about my image, or position or status, I find I can really feel my own body as well as what’s going on around me. I can tune into its needs, its tensions and releases in a way that I just can’t when I’m all excited and strategizing and looking for openings. When I would do that stuff before, I often would have no idea what was really going on in my body until the main events of the evening were over. Only when I got home might I notice an upset stomach or a headache or tight shoulders or a sore muscle area.

I might also miss the pleasure of just liking people without fear of losing anything in the process. When I was strategizing a lot I kept liking certain people in check because it wouldn’t look good in some way or because I was just afraid to let myself. I’m not sure what it was about exactly but there was just this vague fear of liking people too much. It just felt like I would lose something if I did.

In short, while I might be more successful and better at manipulating people and situations to my benefit, and while I might enjoy more of the pleasures of being successful at music, it might be at the cost of the some of the pleasures that come from making music itself. And for me, that trade-off, or the at least the prospect of this trade-off as I see it, are not worth it. And perhaps more importantly, I just don’t have the heart for the ambitious and strategizing life-style. I feel so much better since I let it go.

If you’re young and ambitious and feel like strategizing in this way, I’d say go for it. You might be a talentless, narcissistic buffoon...or you might be a genius destined for greatness, but either way, get it out of your system, or make it big, and the sooner the better. If you’re feeling like “up there” is where you need to be, go for it. It might be your destiny to be famous and excellent and you owe it to your talent and yourself to give it a try. But once it’s clear that strategizing won’t get you any higher or you’re simply not young anymore, I say, Fuck it and just play to play. Let all those considerations go, just make music, take whatever comes back, and enjoy yourself.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Listen To His Words...

But Watch His Weapons.

Listen to your opponent's words, they might be worth listening to...but watch his body, particularly his weapons. No matter what he (or she) says, if his weapons are getting closer to you, watch those weapons. Easier said than done sometimes, but I find this useful to remember in all kinds of conflicts that are not overtly physical or violent. I listen to what my opponent or potential opponent says, but I watch his weapons, whatever they may be. No matter what he (or she) says, if those weapons are getting closer to me, or to a position where they can do me damage, it's time to act, or, at the very least time to watch more closely. So if someone's talking peace but amassing their tanks on your border...or asking for a light and getting their elbows bent and fists coiled...or talking compromise while hiring a high priced lawyer...or smiling while their hand is reaching for a bottle...keep watching and be prepared for an attack. It might not come, but if doesn't hurt to be ready.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Important Gigs?

I Don't Have Any.

When it comes to my music, I'm not consciously pushing, building or climbing anything. I don’t really have goals other than following my muse and meeting whatever comes next. So for me there are no “important” gigs anymore, just pleasurable or less pleasurable ones. My pleasure is based first on whether I liked my playing, secondly on whether anyone else did.

I'm not planning or strategizing or headed anywhere special. I practice, I make my sound, I keep showing up, and I see what happens. I've been doing it for many years and I'll keep on doing it as long as I can, regardless of whether the shows are large or small, bars or stages, packed or empty. It's not my career, it's my life. As they say in Hollywood action movies: It's what I do.

People who like what I do seem to have a hard time adjusting to or believing or getting where I'm coming from with my music. They seem to apply their own standards, usually linked to the way it was when they were coming of age musically.

I think my latest and most satisfying attitude towards music probably started as a defense mechanism that I grew into and then began to sincerely experience. With the world increasingly music-saturated, and me getting older and more and more musically "irrelevant", at least as far as the music business was concerned, and me getting sick of where that business was going anyway, it was pretty draining riding the roller coaster of good gigs and bad gigs, high hopes and disappointments, and the never ending dithering about whether and why I should even bother. It was a real relief to jettison all those concerns and just focus on what was the most pleasurable, which was the writing, recording and performing, the work itself. I just focused on that and not so much on how it was received or what I was getting back. Then I hit on the idea of going even further and giving my music away free on my site and seeing what freely came back, via my digital tip jar, good comments, youtube subscribers, etc.

What started as trying to find a way to improve the quality of my time, ended up freeing a lot of energy previously bound up in status hunger. Freeing up this energy allowed me to put it into my creative life. That life began to grow and become a greater and greater pleasure and finally I really didn't care so much about my status or success level, I just wanted to do what I enjoyed doing and see if anyone else liked it too. I stopped feeling entitled to anyone's attention and just played to play. Oddly enough, when I started doing this, I started getting more attention. But it's still a secondary concern. I honestly feel as though my musical "career" is over. And since I'm retired, I'm doing whatever the Hell I want. If I want to do 6 albums in one year that's what I do. I'm a true amateur, in the sense that I am guided much more by love than money.

I think there is a natural tendency to project one's own feelings and priorities on others. But people are not the same and do not experience life the same way. Some artists need a stage, some don't. Some are attached to fame and fortune, some are not. Some need to be worshipped, some do not. I think that generalities generally express more about the generalizer than about what is being generalized about.

My original statement here was not a concept or opinion or philosophy, about me or anyone else. What I wrote is just the way it is for me: I don't experience gigs as being "important" because I'm not building anything or climbing anything, I'm not "going anywhere". If I was, gigs would either help that climb or hinder that climb and would therefore be important or not. All gigs are of about the same importance for me. My goal is to make my sound and play well and see what comes back freely when I do that. I've lived over 54 years with precious little fame and fortune. If it was important to me, I would have quit or become pretty damn bitter by now, but neither has happened.

I really like living this way. I get to focus on my work. I don't have the feeling that I'm pushing or forcing anything. Naturally, some of what I get back is more pleasurable and some less so. But I spend much less time hoping and despairing than I used to, I think because I’m not pinning so much on the outcome of any particular show or opportunity. Sometimes I’m a bit more encouraged or discouraged by a particular show but I don’t linger on the ups or the downs very much. I go right back to work either way.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


You Bet.

A friend of mine recently called Mark Zuckerberg “annoying”. He's more than annoying to me. I think he's a dick. Not content to be rich and powerful, he's always looking for more and more money, and more and more power. I think his underlying hostility cannot help but fuck with people. Following people's internet activity after they log off facebook? And not anonymously? Providing a useful and habit forming service and then, once people are "hooked", changing and manipulating the service so that the more people are invested in it, the more committed they are to going a long with the next change and the next and the next?

Facebook changes benefit facebook and only marginally you and me. People get used to or hooked on this site. They literally need it, and so become apologists for whatever facebook does, always downplaying facebook's dark side. But facebook is basically mining and selling data. Maybe it's just to advertisers...but maybe it's to the police, or the military, or insurance companies, or...? Would you honestly put it past them to not do any of these things?

Most services like facebook are simply too large to be for the greater good. Some sites are very cool. They provide a real service to people and the people behind the site make money, but not in the billions. In order to make something as big as facebook you HAVE to be in league with some pretty dark forces. Saints generally don't end up billionaires. I realize that this is true of many of the companies that run things on the net, but I do think diversification gives the individual a small measure of control and flexibility in the face of these fuckers. I don't recommend putting all of your social networking or socializing into one basket, especially one created by a dick who never stops looking for something to fuck with.

I don't hate fb by the way. And I don’t hate Zuckerberg. He’s obeying his nature and so am I. I just don't trust him or facebook and I'm finding it less useful by the day. It’s his toy and no one forced me to use and like it. He's free to do whatever he wants to with it. Just as I'm free to move on, which I will be doing at some point in the near future.

Meanwhile, I am spreading my internet presence between my website, my youtube channel, my Flickr page, my email list, and this blog. I’m also gradually replacing my facebook content with detours to these sites. Should anyone decide to start a non-profit open source social media network that is simple, useful and doesn’t change constantly, I’m ready to jump ship anytime.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Love Or Money?

Or Something In Between...

I would say the very blessed among us get to make a solid living doing what we love most and essentially "being ourselves".

Then there are those of us who make a marginal living doing what we love, keeping a roof over our heads, but always somewhat worried about money.

There are those who make a living at something related to what they love, where they make more money but are a step or two removed from their true passion, like a musician who teaches or manages a music store.

And then there are people with pleasant enough day jobs who enjoy but don't love their work, and who use their spare time to do what they love most.

And there are people who hate their jobs and still don't make enough money to relax and who don't even know what they love.

And those who hate their jobs but make a lot of money at them and so at least don't have to worry about finances.

And a million shades in between.

Being one of those people who've chosen to live a creative life, very close to my heart, but who barely makes a living, I can understand why people are willing to work at jobs they either don't love or even hate, in order to make enough money to live materially the way they want or need to. It's a rational choice that makes sense to me, especially as I get older, with no health insurance or major cushion to fall back on in an emergency.

I know some people would call it "selling out", meaning they've abandoned their creative potential for money, but I don't judge it that way. We all need to pay the bills. We all need to choose what we need versus what we want. We all need to choose how much of our time and energy are going to go into our work. And we need to choose what kind of work that will be. When I see someone in a job they don't seem to like much, but are making plenty of money at, about the worst I'll say is, “Boy the money's nice, but I wouldn't trade lives with them.”

I’ve made my choice and I’m too far down that road to turn back now.

Here are some of my "secrets" to living a creative life close to my heart, without a "day job":

1. Keep expenses down

2. See "needs" as "preferences"

3. Don't have kids (see 1.)

4. Establish more than one creative outlet that also produces income. I am a T'ai-Chi teacher, but I've also written a couple of books (self published), and I'm a singer/songwriter.

5. Don't have a car. (see 1.)

6. Did I mention keeping expenses down?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Peace Of Mind

Watercolor by Samarra Burnett

And What Works For Me.

Peace of mind does not exist in my world. In my experience, minds are not peaceful. I have experienced that it's possible for myself and others to become more peaceful of mind, I am relatively sure of that. (Pun intended.) But I've never experienced, nor have I felt that anyone else was experiencing, any kind of pure peace of mind.

Only two things have actually brought some measure of peace to my mind. One has been accepting the parts of me that are not peaceful, never have been, and probably never will be. And the other has been doing what feels most deeply right to me.

By admitting to myself that I was competitive, aggressive, lustful, angry, violent and warlike, I invited these parts of myself to be full fledged members of the family or parliament in my head. They didn't have to become outlaws and "demons" to be fought with, and ultimately defeated by. When accepted and allowed to have their say, these so-called “darker” parts of myself began to relax somewhat. I didn't fight them, I just tempered them. And they didn't fight me, they just made themselves known. The lack of fighting between me and my darker side resulted in, obviously, less fighting. And less fighting in my mind meant more peace in my mind.

I find this to be true again and again. I have more peace in my mind when I accept the war in my mind. Certainly more than I do when I try to be peaceful. Trying to be peaceful seems like a contradiction in terms to me, like being determined to relax, or trying to lift a chair I’m sitting in.

I call myself a Freestyle Taoist because rather than the 1200+ volumes that comprise the orthodox Taoist canon, I focus instead on 4 words: Flow more~Force less. This is the heart of my life, both as T'ai-Chi teacher and as a singer/songwriter. But how do I actually do this without fighting myself? I've spent over 25 years studying and learning how to "flow more~force less" in countless training exercises within the T'ai-Chi system. I've spent even longer working on reducing wasted effort as a singer, writer, and performer. And yet I still force things all the time.

What’s important to me in life is not so much what I hit as what I’m aiming for. And what I’m aiming for is what I call "the unforced life”, the life that I don't have to force myself to live, a life without excessive use of force, where each action is done with the just the right amount of energy needed to achieve its ends. I've studied this on a daily basis for decades and still, what progress I've made has been slow and steady, with many, many very small steps.

Each one of these steps involved letting go of some little skirmish going on inside myself, a skirmish that felt like a life and death struggle to whatever parts of me were fighting. One by one, each little battle would reach a place where surrender was the only option, and that battle would be over. My shoulder muscles would relax and sink. A martial technique would soften and become more effective. My hands would find the sound I wanted to make on my guitar. My voice would open a bit. I’d find the words I was looking for. And once again, a small measure of peace emerged.

I don't know any way to do this other than gradually, by accepting whatever is happening inside and outside of me. Not liking it necessarily, but accepting it, accepting that it's happening. Things are always changing and conflict seems an inevitable part human nature, but when I've accepted what's going on, in and around me, at least I’m not adding to the conflicts.

With less preoccupying conflict in my life, it’s easier to identify what feels most deeply right to me and easier to act on it. I've learned to trust this "most deeply right" feeling completely. I know it will lead me to something ultimately beneficial, either directly, or indirectly through painful lessons. As I've gotten better at listening to and identifying this inner "right" feeling, there have been less and less painful lessons, more flow and less force, more directly satisfying experiences of my self and the world around me, and yes, even a bit more peace of mind.