Sunday, January 31, 2010

Guest Blogger, Marvin D. Wilson

Please, join me in welcoming author Marvin Wilson, better known to many bloggers as The Old Silly, to Thoughts in Progress today as the special guest blogger.

Marvin is the author of three published books, I Romanced the Stone (Memoirs of a Recovering Hippie), Owen Fiddler, and Between the Storm and the Rainbow.

Marvin has joined us here today to talk about “Freedom through Discipline.” Marvin, if you will. …

I was able to go to college on a music scholarship. My father was a poor Christian minister, and had I not been born with the gift of music, the advantage of higher education would have been denied me. Thanks to my God-given talents, I was able to go. I was a music major with a thespian minor at Central Michigan University.  

At age eighteen, I thought I knew everything. I had talent, intelligence, youthful bold confidence and a brash attitude, and a social/political/religious view of our world (this was the late 1960s, mind you) that was one of ‘I know everything.’ And anyone who disagreed with me (especially my parents and any authority figures in the older generation, those despicable leaders of the hypocritical oppressive ‘Orwellian - big brother’ government of the times), were dead wrong.

I was a ‘Free Spirit,’ venturing forth into a brave new world that me and my Hippie friends were forging with our new lifestyle, our drugs, sex and rock and roll religion of freedom.

In my first year at college, I met Professor Stephen Hobson. He was my choir director and my private lesson voice coach. He looked to me to be in his late sixties. He was (well, he seemed to me at the time) stodgy and stiff, and a strict disciplinarian. He demanded of me a level of self-discipline and rigorous diurnal practice regimen that I was completely without the ability to understand, let alone adhere to.

One little flutter in-between voice registers, any tiny slippage in tonal and/or pitch control when singing my assigned lessons in his torture chambers he called a ‘practice room’ every Wednesday, and he would stop playing his piano accompaniment. He would look at me with this ‘you know as well as I that that was not good enough’ expression and demand that I try it again. Over and over … until I got it perfect. Perfect according to his obnoxious elitist opinion.

I couldn't stand that man. He was asking way too much of me, and for no good reason. I did not see the need for such a tyrannical imposition of discipline on me and my life, my singing, my anything. I was writing songs about freedom and liberty, gigging at night in my rock and roll band, getting over to thunderous applause at the hands of my Hippie peers, why did I need discipline?

I was a one-of-a-kind talent; my uninhibited, serendipitous, wild and natural style was destined to become the standard for future generations. Professors in decades to come would teach their students how to emulate me!

Ah, but those of you with any substantial life experience can guess the rest of the story. I never ‘made it’ as a big impact famous rock and roller. I eventually wound up playing for modest money in little disco bars, playing live jukebox cover tunes for young people to get drunk to and screw each other. But I had learned something along the way.

I learned that in order to become ‘free’ with anything, any pursuit, any hobby, any career, any craft, any aspiration of great accomplishment, you had to go through the discipline first. I never made it as a big name musician, but I did learn how to play my instrument. To this day, I am free when I pick up a guitar. I can express emotions, elevate my consciousness, get all heaven-bound and glorified, and anyone around me will experience the same thing I am feeling.

It's a miracle I can produce, at any time, in any place, on any guitar of reasonable quality. But it took a long, strenuous time of discipline to reach that plateau. Years and years of overcoming sore fingertips and blistered split open calluses, learning the scales, studying the modes, practicing the positions, emulating the recordings artists, getting so familiar with the neck I owned it as an extensions of my hand.

Towards the end of my bar-playing nightclub career, Professor Stephen Hobson came out to see my band. I had called him, letting him know we were playing in his town that week. Even so, I was surprised to see him in the audience—remember, this is a classical musician, a prim and proper professor, a patron of the fine arts, someone who goes to operas and symphony performances. For him to go to a dance club and listen to a top forty band was rather impressive.

And you know what? He was impressed with our performance. I went and sat at the table with him and his wife after the second set and he was beaming. He had wonderful accolades to bestow upon my ensemble and me, complimenting the vocals, the arrangements, our use of dynamics, and our overall command of our instruments. It was then that I told him what I had wanted to say for several years.

I told him that I finally understood what discipline meant, what its value was. I knew, I told him, that undertaking the arduous discipline of any given art or craft was the necessary and only way to get free within that art or craft. I expressed to him that I finally appreciated what he had been trying to get through to my thick headstrong skull all those years ago. I knew I had been a special student to him, he had a great amount of belief in my talent, and I also knew I had been a disappointment to him, because he never ‘got through to me’ when I was under his tutelage. I apologized to him for that shortcoming and assured him that his teaching had stuck with me all these years and had now been realized in my life and practice.

The now retired Professor Stephen Hobson's eighty-year-old eyes filled up. He said, and I quote, "Then my life, my career, has been worth it!" We hugged. Long and sincere. That was the last time I ever saw him. He died a couple years later. I will never forget Professor Stephen Hobson and what he taught me about applying discipline to my life in order to get beyond boundaries and break free.

It applies to relationships and marriage, to any career, to any sport, to any hobby, to any life pursuit whatsoever. If you want to eventually be free, you must initially go through the discipline. It may sound like an oxymoron, "Freedom through Discipline," it did to me as a young Hippie, but it makes perfect sense to me now. God bless and keep you, Professor Stephen Hobson. Your legacy, your teaching, lives on.

Marvin, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story with us. Sometimes it is hard for us to understand that we do need discipline in our lives to strive and succeed.

For those who haven’t meet Marvin before, let me share some of his background with you. Marvin is a family man, married for 34 years, with three adult children and six grandchildren. He has been around the block of life several times, through the ups and downs, and has survived in good enough spirits to desire to write about life, to write about living life on purpose. Marvin is a self-described “non-religious, dogma-free, Maverick spiritualist Christian.” He writes books that deliver spiritual and inspirational messages in an engaging, thought provoking, often times humorous, more than often irreverent, sometimes sexy and even ribald way, through the spinning of an entertaining tale.

In addition, Marvin is an editor with All Things That Matter Press and does freelance editing as well. He is a prolific blogger, posting daily on his internationally popular blog at The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog. Marvin’s novel, Owen Fiddler, received the prestigious AVATAR award for excellence in spiritual books. He also has had articles published in multiple Ezines, and has been interviewed on hundreds of blogs, radio and TV shows, both over the internet and on the airwaves. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Here's a book trailer for Owen Fiddler, please enjoy


  1. Great interview, Marvin and Mason!

    I love your point here, Marvin...that it's important to get the discipline down before we go off on our creative tangents. And you're so right.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Great story! As a teacher, I'm often told it only takes one special person to really change a life. This is a great example of that in reality. I'm so very glad you had a chance to tell your prof how you felt. To have that kind of positive influence on another life is staggering.

  3. What a wonderful post! Marvin's books are on my TBR list.

  4. Great post, Mason and Marvin. Your books, Marvin, sound as interesting as your life.

  5. We all hope our kids meet that person--whether it is us or someone else.

    As for discipline, this is a lesson I should take to heart. Without it, no talent or hard work will end in a completed novel.

    Thanks, Mason and Marvin, for this excellent post.

  6. Great interview, Marvin!!! One of my heroes.

    Mason, I'd sent an email about my guest post on March 9 - let me know the topic!!!

  7. Great post, Marvin. Whether you knew it or not at the time, you gave him a wonderful gift. (In return for the gift he gave you as a teacher.)

    Straight From Hel

  8. First of all, thanks, Mason, for this splendidly done feature post! It's an honor to grace this corridor of the hallowed halls of Bloggydom with such great readers you have and the fine lineup of posts, author, and features you deliver here.

    Elizabeth- Thanks, and yes - once I finally got that through my think young head, life got a lot easier.

    Jami - Amen. I'm sooo happy I was able to tell Prof how much he had influenced me.

    Ingrid - Thank you also, and I'd love to get your feedback on my book(s). You'll find a lot of parallels between my memoir (I Romanced the Stone) and Owen Fiddler. (wink)

    Journaling - Appreciate it, and yes, it has been quite the crazy and all over the place ride here on planet earth!

    Michelle - Thanks and you're welcome. I agree, as a father and now a grandfather I always hope and pray that the young people growing up in our family find good mentors along the way.

    Diane- Your hero considers YOU one of his heroes too!

    Helen, you know I never really thought deeply about that, but as I think on it, you're right. I know when someone tells me they were postively affected by my writings and stories, it is a deep blessing to me.

    The Old Silly

  9. Marvin, just wanted to say thanks so much for stopping by today to share your story with us. I really appreciate you guest blogging here today. It was a very inspiring story that you shared.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.