John Cairns’s recent decision to stop competing in solo piping is food for thought. His bowing out at a relatively young age and when his most recent contest was the Glenfiddich Championship probably strikes some as odd. After all, why would someone playing at the top of his game pack it in?
As some know, I’m a firm believer in going out on a strong note. Too many guys keep hammering away at the solo thing after their prime is well past, and whatever reputation they built over many years can turn into a heap of smouldering blackwood after a summer of playing that didn’t meet his or her usual standard. Maintaining a personal standard is an incredibly demanding and pressure-packed thing to do, and more often than not it gets the better of even the best players.
On the other hand, who cares if someone wants to keep at it? If they’re enjoying competing and performing, isn’t that all that matters? Some people seem to like to tut-tut when they hear competitors not playing as well as they once could, but, really, why should they care?
It’s a strictly personal decision. Playing well and exceeding your own standard often results in personal enjoyment. The end must justify the means, of course, and I’m sure that John did what was right for him. I for one will miss listening to his competition playing but remember it well.