As long as I’m progressing I feel content. Invariably, when I feel like I’m not progressing or moving forward I feel depressed and anxious. For me, the goal isn’t to “make it” or arrive at some pre-conceived destination. Instead, it’s to move forward, one day at a time and see where that leads.
When I was younger I had this idea that I had to “make it”. I was convinced it was my pre-ordained destiny. As the years passed and I didn’t achieve the success I dreamed of I began to feel disenchanted with playing music. For a few years, in my early thirties, I sort of put playing music on the back burner. I was starting to get burned out from playing in different bands and playing lots of shows that didn’t seem to take me as far as I wanted to go and so for awhile I sort of drifted. I traveled for a bit to Central America and pursued other goals like internet marketing, writing and eventually started this website and also marketing other artists to the licensing markets.
I never stopped completely writing or playing music during this period, but I started to lose that drive and manic sense of trying to make it that I had when I was younger. I wasn’t sure initially if this was a good or bad thing. I used to write music relentlessly and pursued music with an almost insane fervor. I can recall living with an ex girlfriend in a studio apartment and locking myself in our bathroom for hours at a time to finish new songs I was working on. Sometimes I would drive to Lake Michigan in Chicago and find a quiet spot to sit with my guitar as I waited for inspiration to strike. I would spend hour and hours recording new music and practicing the guitar. I was in love with music and the honeymoon phase lasted a long time.
As the years passed and I started to lose a little bit of that youthful drive, I went through a bit of an identity crisis. If I wasn’t going to be the rock star I was convinced I was born to be, then who would I be? Just another “dime a dozen” guitar teacher? Just another struggling artist among millions? Was I going to turn out to be, god forbid, average? That didn’t feel right.
Over the years these doubts and critical voices subsided and I realized that not being as successful as I hoped I would be in the music business is far from failing. Of course there’s always the future and I am as optimistic and motivated as ever, but let’s face it, most musicians don’t “make it” to the level of U2, Coldplay, etc. Those are just the facts. I have met hundreds, if not thousands of musicians over the years via networking, playing in bands, going to Berklee College Of Music and so on, and I know one musician who appears to be on his way to becoming pretty well known and who I think actually will become a household name.
But here’s the most important realization. Despite all the doubts I had and the frustration I endured, something kept happening. I kept returning to music and songwriting, over and over. An idea would pop into my head and I’d grab my guitar and start writing. Someone would call and invite me to play a gig and I’d go play. A couple weeks would go by where I didn’t play guitar and then inspiration would strike and I would write another great song. Over time I realized that I love writing and playing music simply for the sake of doing it and that it would always be a big part of my life. Of course I want to be successful doing it, but no matter what I realized, it was here to stay.
This realization was actually incredibly liberating. I wasn’t pursuing music attached and dependent on some sort of specific outcome. I was pursuing music, perhaps for the first time ever, simply because I loved it and believed in it, more than anything else.
It’s like when you fall in love with someone. Eventually that initial passion is going to fade and you’re going to have to make a choice. Do you go and look for someone new or do you stay and commit? Music and I have made our decision.
In : June 2014
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