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Carolyn R. Parsons
Carolyn R. Parsons - Contributed

Taking risks

Welcome to my very first column with The Central Voice. Some of you may know me from my time writing for The Pilot. I am the author of three novels and a poetry book and most recently co-host of an online arts and entertainment radio/podcast program called “Bridges” that I produce in partnership with Citadel House in Lewisporte.

We’ll talk to musicians, writers, visual artists, photographers, actors, and so on. But it’ll also have a bit of a philosophical bend. The arts are a reflection of our culture. Creatives share thoughts and inspiration through their work and that will seep deep into this column.

This week is about taking chances, directly inspired by New Brunswick musician Mike Biggar who I had the good fortune to speak with recently. His latest album is entitled “Go All In”. I asked him if the title was inspired by a new determination in his own life to just “giv’r,” as we say around these parts, or if it was just a reinforcing a general philosophy of his. His response was that indeed, he’d recently made a commitment to really go all in with his music career, to plan tours, get out there and find new audiences for his music, which he describes as soulful roots and blues.

Mike says of his recent, and drastic, career change, “You get to the edge of that cliff and you’re sorta like, I dunno.” He laughed and I did too, because we’ve all been at the “I dunno” part. It’s all too often the point where it’s tempting to just take a selfie and leave.

Mike knows from experience, having jumped out of a decade-long career as a minister to reinvent himself as a full-time musician.

“There’s no rug you can stand upon that can’t kinda get pulled out from under you in this world,” he says of his decision to make the risky foray into the life of full-time singer-songwriter-performer.

A line from his title track, “Go All In”, says “I’d rather go big even if I go bust.” He told me that from his experience, “You learn more from failure than you do from success.”

Fortunately for Mike, there hasn’t been a lot of bust. He’s got two East Coast Music Association awards and three MusicNB awards.

He wouldn’t have had these successes had he not dived off that metaphorical cliff. Why is it that so many are afraid to go bust? Failure is painful. It’s also inevitable that failure will come at some point in your life. Isn’t it better to fail doing something you love? At least you were happy in the doing of it as you pick yourself up and try again.

I confess I’ve turned back from the cliff a lot. It’s only recently I came to the realization that it’s the fear of success that has held me back as much as the fear of failure.

We all know failure sucks, but often don’t realize that there is a painful energy that sits in your stomach every time you’re at the precipice of success as well. It’s uncomfortable and requires a bit of a walk through, or a toppling over, or a deep dive. I’ve felt it, turned back and started down a different, easier path, far too many times.

It’s hard to punch through that nagging discomfort of the unknown. The bust might come but so might the next success and as scary as both can be, an attempt will yield more satisfaction than not trying at all.

I’ve decided not to be deterred because of something that feels like bad gas after several slices of cheap pizza.

I’ll pop an antacid, or even better, pop a Mike Biggar album on the old smartphone, and barrel through. As Mike says, go all in, and go big or go bust.

Mike Biggar will be on tour in central and eastern Newfoundland and Labrador starting Sept. 14. Details at

Carolyn R. Parsons is an author in central Newfoundland and she can be reached at

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