Pat Blythe – Comparing “notes”…..and music

A great start to Tuesday morning! Mail call, and among all the real estate flyers, I spy the dreaded federal government envelope. My spine stiffens. Now what?? My brain spirals. Normally I would ignore it for as long as I reasonably could, barely avoiding jail time or another envelope with a nasty reprimand. The only thing worse than the first notice… the second. Coffee in hand and perched on the edge of my seat (literally), with great trepidation I open the envelope.

OMG! It’s even worse than I thought!!! It’s my notice I will be receiving Old Age Security in one year’s time!!!!! Well that just harshed my mellow, jammed the pin in my balloon, flabber my gasted…….you get the idea.

FFS! We’re not even finished with the birthday month yet.  Why oh why do I need to be reminded A YEAR IN ADVANCE! Are they afraid I’ll forget? Probably. (sigh) Oh, and I must tick off any incorrect boxes and submit any new information. Last time I checked my date, time and place of birth remain the same. I’ve pinched myself and yep, I’m still me. As Chris used to say, “I’m not a pigment of your imagination.”

…and don’t get me going on the “O” word. (not the screaming, heavy breathing one, the other one). I deplore the “O” word and what it conjures up in our minds. Our illustrious government has GOT to find another description for Old Age Security. They changed Unemployment Insurance to Employment Insurance. We all found it a bit of a joke because it didn’t change anything else. We were still unemployed. But OAS, there has just got to be a better phrase than “old age”. We already know how many years we’ve been stomping around on this tiny planet. So……I challenge you all to come up with something better. I will be happy to send any and all suggestions (be nice now) to my MP. (Look out Nate! Your lovely wife reads my column.)

Rant over!

Comparing notes……

The world “compare” can be used in oh so many ways.

  • Compare as a verb (examine differences) – estimate, measure, or note the similarity or dissimilarity between.
  • Compare as a verb (examine similarities) – to judgesuggest, or considerthat something is similar or of equal quality to something else.
  • Compare as a noun (literary) – beyond compare….everything or everyone is worse quality.

Toss in an adverb such as “comparatively” or other nouns such as “comparator” or “comparatives”.  We love the word compare, even if we’re just thinking it.

Two conversations, one a couple of nights ago and one yesterday morning, led me here. Actually, one conversation was more of a question, “what are you going to write about in the column?”…..and I hadn’t a clue. I found my inspiration in the following morning’s conversation (or as we do today message or text) with a friend as we were discussing, among other things, photography.

Stare and compare……

Theodore Roosevelt called comparison “the thief of joy.”  According to podcaster Jordan Hardinger wrote, “We have a fundamental need to evaluate ourselves, and the only way to do that is in reference to something else…and since we live in a world populated by other life forms that look and behave a lot like us, that something else becomes someone else — other people.”

According to an article in Psychology Today, “…as much as 10 percent of our thoughts involve comparisons of some kind. Social comparison theory is the idea that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. The theory was developed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger.” Simply stated, people assess their opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to other people for two reasons: to reduce uncertainty in the areas in which they are comparing themselves; second, to learn how to define themselves. Festinger realized that humans are not able to define themselves intrinsically or independently. They need to do this in relation to someone else. However, there can be both a positive and a negative to this.

We are constantly comparing ourselves to other people…..whether it’s by appearance, talent, success, brain power, wealth….oh this list is so incredibly long. Does all this “comparing” make us feel good about ourselves or sad and depressed? Does it make us more at ease or more uncomfortable? Does it boost our ego or squash it? Does it motivate or deflate? Does it change our behaviour by making us more biased or judgemental, or more open-minded and thoughtful?

How we see (or feel about) ourselves is projected outwards, silently sending signals “telling” people how they should see us. When we don’t value ourselves we’re basically telling everyone we’re not good enough…..that we don’t measure up. We’re not allowing them to form their own opinions. Instead we’re influencing them and injecting our own narrative before they’ve had a chance. The “we’re not worthy” syndrome can be extremely harmful to your overall mental and physical health.

We’re Not Worthy – Wayne’s World

We judge ourselves too harshly and minimize ourselves and our work before we give other people a chance to judge for themselves. Why do we do that? Why do we feel this irrepressible need to put ourselves down or diminish our skills? Before giving someone else the chance to form their own opinion we create a protective barrier by disarming them? We take away or hamper their chance to see who we really are. We are all guilty of this to a degree but far too many people begin to believe their own internal stories.


When you stand in front of a mirror, what do you see? All the physical flaws and shortcomings of your body? The not-so-perfect face? Or do you see the how hard you worked, all those babies your bore, the eyes that could tell you stories that would make you laugh or your teeth curl, the children you raised or the boss you worked with that bestowed all that grey (or lack of) hair? The fact that you made it through life so far and actually lasted this long!

It’s impossible to see ourselves as others see us no matter how hard we try. To step out of bodies, stand back and be totally objective is difficult and awkward. So the best possible mirror is through another’s eyes. What we say, what we do and how we carry ourselves all reflect back to us in how people perceive us… they respond to or regard us.

I’m okay and you’re okay too…..

We sell ourselves short all the time and I’m just as guilty as the next person. We make ourselves the butt of jokes to ease the pressure and to prevent any rising of expectations. Or maybe it’s the fear of being judged harshly or poorly. If we’re quick to the punch, so to speak, then ostensibly it doesn’t give anyone else much room for argument. We’ve taken that power away from them. There’s also a fear of appearing arrogant or egotistical. No one likes to be perceived as “tooting their own horn”, but dammit, I do make a mean cup of coffee.

Sometimes it’s all in the approach. We can be humble and still acknowledge ourselves. We can appreciate ourselves without being overbearing. We can recognize our own value(s) and remain modest. (I still make a damn fine cup of coffee!) We can offer something to the “conversation” and also learn from it. We can agree to disagree. We need to behave towards ourselves as we would want others to behave towards us. It’s not easy shutting down that inner voice or breaking old habits, but we’re all a continual work in progress.

It’s effortless, almost second nature to point out our own imperfections and deficiencies and so damned difficult to point out our strengths and good qualities. Every brain is unique. Every brain has its own “tastebuds”. How you take a photograph or hear a piece of music is going to be distinct from everyone else. How I see you and vice versa will be different from everyone else. If we were all the same life would be extremely boring. Start the conversation. Talk and listen. There will be similarities, but as no two relationships are identical, we get to know each other in uniquely special ways. The beautiful thing is there’s room for all of us. Remember to just be you!

42 years ago…..

Canada Jam at Bowmanville’s Mosport Park in 1978. Chris was living at Cottingham Sound at the time and was part of the crew assembling and striking the stage as well as one of the photographers. It was a special and joyful time in his life. Like me, he loved being surrounded by music, the music makers and his friends. He was all about new experiences, creativity and learning. He’ll be gone seven years tomorrow, October 1.

Before the crowds

What led me here was the song by Dave Mason I’m using in this column. Mason was one of the many performers Chris photographed that day at Canada Jam. Side note, the singer, David Palmer, was the original vocalist in Steely Dan. The other band members included guitarist Nick Van Maarth from Buddy Holly’s backup band The Crickets, drummer Don Francisco of Crowfoot and bassist Andy Sylvester of Savoy Brown. Definitely no slouching in the talent department.


I’m adding the following song simply because I stumbled upon it searching for something else. I’m down so many rabbit holes these days the tunnels seem to be getting longer and deeper! Finding Mason’s video lead me down one of those tunnels and after following the trail through multiple other sites, directed me to the following video. No wonder my column takes so friggin’ long to write!

Wha Koo – You’re Such a Fabulous Dancer

In the search for songs for this column I found more than enough to fill this space…..and several others. Downright depressing to say the least. So…..interspersed are songs that are more uplifting and positive. We need that now more than anything right now.

It’s a Beautiful Day – U2

After You’ve Gone – Live in studio with Frank Sinatra and Quincy Jones Big Band

This was just tooooo good to pass up…..

Sirius/Eye in the Sky – Alan Parsons

Look At You Look At Me – Dave Mason

No Reply – Genesis

Morning Will Come – Spirit

Creep – Radiohead

All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor

Hold Your Head Up – Argent

Just A Little Bit – Julian Taylor Band

Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel

Don’t Bring Me Down – ELO

I think this so beautiful……

Autumn Leaves – Eva Cassidy

I have no idea if this column makes any sense to anyone. In my world I am surrounded by fantastically talented people who question that talent every day. The beauty is they forge ahead, following their passion and quietly, deep down, believing in themselves and listening to their hearts. I have no reason to believe otherwise. I know I believe in them.



Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at:

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

3 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Comparing “notes”…..and music”

  1. Reframe: OAS = Cash for Life! 😉

  2. Right out of the park. Oh and Julian Taylor …

  3. Damon Hines Says:

    Golden Age Supplement? Not so much of a slight. Semantic sleight. Scintillating and cornucopic as always! ❤ TYVM

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