There are many things we aspire to be or do in life. Little things, big things, epic things. That which lies in the arena of the latter is likely the blessing and the curse of our personal legend.
For me, it was/is music. Being musically inclined since I was three, it’s something that came naturally. As I got older, taking lessons got less relevant and my various forms of arrogance and ignorance took over, bit by bit.
Trying to fit into a regimen of lessons and rudiments and rote was maddening because I just wanted to do my own thing. I could always “hear” more than what the notes on the page were singing. In fact, my last music teacher began to simply hand me a piece of music, and tell me, “see what you can do with it,” as it was clear that sticking to what was on the page was not only boring but futile.
I know my father never appreciated my aloof and cavalier approach to structure and discipline to be the professional, or at least “serious” musician he never was. The sins, revisited, perhaps.
My use for written music faded, and my passion for flowing with the instruments and ideas and inspirations eventually blew up, happily.
Once I was able to find time and space to dive deep, I would practice on the keyboards or drums, for hours. I played so hard my fingers and forearms were burning. A good hurt. I miss those days often.
I wrote bits and pieces of hundreds of songs. Every time I sat at the keyboard, and later with a guitar, a new melody or two would show up. It’s a beautiful thing.
Then came the business of music. Fuck me what a way to ruin the joy, one bite at a time.
Over the years, I would vacillate between “it’s music, or nothing!” and “get a day job so I can do it for fun.” We are quite adept at chopping off our own hands sometimes. And a decade passes. Then another.
I wasn’t always aware of some deeply planted seeds of doubt and guilt and shame and how it all effected choices and decisions that would keep me in various states of self-sabotage. They’re all here, explored in my little rants and scribbles… I’m still learning.
Sometimes other interests show up, and like clockwork, I would try to convince myself that this new challenge might satisfy me, diving in and immersing myself to tap that joyous newness again. Happily, some of these stick, and become integral to my “work for the betterment of humanity.” A vanity, perhaps, but a deeply fulfilling and often uncomfortable sharing of what I see in me, and in you.
As artists, we can be chameleons and adapt to most environments, but no matter what, it’s still pretending. Is life simply character research for a bigger role beyond this place?
Relationships didn’t much survive this underlying torment either. They were frequently just another excuse to hide the various shades of pain and unfulfilled notions.
Eventually, the bitter self-reproach and vicious inner battles level off with experience, temperance, hard-learned wisdom and gentle, persistent heartful presence. Solvitur ambulando, right?
The brutal truth is we are too often our own worst enemies. We take on the opinions and perspectives of outsiders as our own when they’re really only ever checkpoints, road markers, suggested routes, or a variation of our own eyes looking back at us in the rearview mirror.
Love your life