20 Apr

I don’t know what I’m doing. I fake self-awareness really well, but in reality I haven’t a clue. A year ago, I was convinced that being a college professor was my path. Now, I’m not so sure. I keep getting distracted by the immutable desire to play music professionally. There are several pitfalls to this.

I have the soul and spirit of an artist, and I have shackled my soul and spirit to bullshit notions of legitimacy. And for what? To try and live up to American society’s definition of success – that work has to be horrible and shitty, or it’s not really work, it’s just play, and how dare you try to go out and play all the time when the rest of us suffer? I was given this set of ears by God to use to hear the majesty that is applied physics – sound organized in time – and that is what these ears are wired to do. I can’t explain it to anyone else, really, except for other musicians, but I feel like a fish out of water around them, too. Like I’ll never be good enough to be taken seriously by the people I look up to. All I ever want to do is just hang with my musical heroes and play music with them and talk to them about the stuff we love and why we love it. I have the intellect and the savvy and the command of musical language to do that for the rest of my life. That is paradise, bliss, absolute and total contentment.

I have a hard time believing God wanted me to do anything else. Otherwise, why would I have been gifted with the sense of pitch that I have? (Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty solid.) The sublime ability to convey the most inexpressible of emotions through something as abstract as a big hunk of copper and zinc? Why can I grab that passion and feel it with gusto when I have the horn in my face, but shun and run in terror from the same passion when the horn is put away? Why is the only vessel for my emotions something that a great many people regard as trivial, and that I myself try to “turn off” so that people don’t think I’m a lazy, over-sensitive artist?

I spent so much time and energy trying to suppress my “no one gets me!” teen angst when I was actually a teenager, trying to be as “mature” as everyone thought I was, trying to be an adult when I hadn’t even started buying maxi pads yet, that it has now manifested in my late 20s like a terrible, abusive boyfriend who keeps popping up to remind you that he fucked your shit up. I spent so much time and energy nailing passions and emotions to the wall alone, never reaching out or asking for help. I’ve internalized every bit of my personal struggle to validate my one true passion. When people ask me, in that half-pitying, half-smug tone, “So what do you DO with that?” I can barely contain my rage anymore. So I retreat to the solitude of my bedroom, and I listen to records. I’ve been doing it the same way since I was old enough to have a stereo.

My greatest fear is going deaf. I am terrified of losing my hearing. I cannot say for sure what would happen to me if I were to lose my ability to hear. It’s not something I want to entertain in detail. I don’t see a positive outcome from that – I see an abrupt end to my existence. Why bother? I’m not being dramatic. It is what it is.

I have this opportunity to be selected to do a job that is in great alignment with my extra-musical skill-set. It’s where I want to be geographically, it’s where I want to be musically. I’ve been trying to see it as the perfect scenario to feed myself and my cat while feeling safe enough to cultivate my musical persona. That’s what a lot of musicians do – they get a day job and they spend the rest of their time sheddin’. That’s why I want this job; that, and to be surrounded by positive influences and absolutely absurd levels of musical talent. In that scenario, all I would do is learn to set that part of myself free without the horn in my face – to be OKAY with the side of me that is a passionate, sensitive artist. To STOP trying to validate what I do to people who will never understand.

I’ve walked that line of “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen,” for so long. Sometimes, I just want to be tossed a god damn bone. I want the work that I have been doing for the last 10 years to have an outcome. The best experiences in my life have been those that just sort of happen, without any pressing or expectation from me. I wanted more than anything else in the world to go to Oregon, and that didn’t fly. So I went to Idaho instead, and my life has been forever changed (in positive, immeasurable ways!) because of that. So while I do believe that we’re always where we’re meant to be, for once in my life I’d like to experience REWARD – I’d like to have the experience of lusting after something to the exclusion of all other things and chasing it down in the end. And even as I write that, I know that what I want and what the creator has in mind are rarely one and the same.

I’ve started to define success in terms of setting goals and attaining them. This goal-setting thing is new for me; I used to be too afraid of the whims and cruelty of life to ever plan anything beyond the next two weeks. I’ve tried to visualize this scenario coming true for me; I’ve gone so far as to start apartment-hunting and canceling appointments that are scheduled past the date when I would start the job. I’m trying to act as if this is a foregone conclusion. But there are negative people in my life, and they talk.

I want to be where I’m meant to be, but if I feel like a fish out of water wherever that happens to be, what’s the point?


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