Forget the Struggles, but Never Forget the Lessons

I'm still young, but in many ways I feel like I've been around for ages. In a previous band, I was discovered to be the elder, which led to me recalling life events in my own version of Mel Brooks' “2000 year old man” routine. The story is that I'm actually 4,012 years old (as of this writing) and have witnessed many of the world's most significant events, sometimes even taking part in them. For example: Julius Caesar still owes me 40 gold pieces and a chariot because I drank more wine than he did while still being able to stand. I was the one standing off to the side at The Salem Witch Trials screaming “You people are fools! She's not a witch, she's just got a mole!” The people, of course, weren't trying to hear any of that and tried to burn me at the stake with everyone else. I just pretended to see a bear coming from behind them and when they turned to look, I ran. Yes, I am the one who came up with that trick, but it rarely works anymore; I blame cartoons.

As with anyone's life, it hasn't all been interesting and humorous, sometimes it has really sucked. I've been bullied; harassed by Police; had things stolen from me; been accused of crimes I didn't commit and have experienced truly foul acts that are far too personal and unfunny to ever reveal in a blog post. I can now look back on all these things and not feel any sadness or self-pity. In all honesty, that wasn't always the case; I've struggled with negative emotions for as long as I can remember. It took a while for me to realize that my view of the world was tainted by the cruelty of just a few people and that not everyone was actually out to get me; I just started out with poor luck in my social surroundings, to say the very least. I'm sure some of you are familiar with looking back upon your past with the words “if only” dancing between the imaginary scenarios; blaming yourself for situations in which you had little-to-no control. For me, the cycle became: relive, regret, resist, repeat. It was a constant struggle with myself and boy am I hard to conquer; I've only just now breached the walls.

Us creative types are an odd bunch to say the least. We're usually highly intelligent, but some of us struggle with seemingly simple tasks like speaking to a stranger or writing a cover letter for a resume. Personally, I have no problems whatsoever with playing guitar in front of a crowd of strangers, throwing myself on the floor and generally being a ham. Take away the guitar, the slight beer buzz and the excitement and you'd be lucky to catch a glimpse of me as I rush out the door. I've learned to live only in the moment, but I've yet to master it. I see the changes slowly taking over and I believe I like who I'm becoming. This is an outlook that the old me would have never allowed because in my mind I was sure that some of those countless numbers of people who belittled me were correct. This is one of the few times in life where numbers lie. There was never anything wrong with me, those people were just assholes and that was probably because someone acted that way towards them; a vicious cycle if there ever was one.

Creativity cannot thrive in a mind that is bogged down by the negative self-talk that is often brought on by unpleasant life experiences. That's not to say that if I would have started getting my head together much sooner that I would be touring the world on some record label's dime; I still would've spent years being stuck in a small town playing “The Devil's Music” all by myself. I don't spend too much time pondering over the “hows and whys” of what I'm doing at this particular point in my life. (Living in the moment, ya know?) I just know that when I do what compels me, it feels right. What's feeling right to me these days is talking to people that I find interesting, even when they're strangers. It feels right to speak on my past experiences in the hope that someone will hear or read about them and take something positive from them. I actually had a moment of bittersweet success upon the discovery that people were finding this site after putting phrases like “no one likes my band” in their search engine. It may not always be obvious to others, but I have a pretty good idea of exactly what I'm doing.

I've found that in order to truly thrive creatively, one must stop thinking and start doing. Yes, it sounds like I pulled that right off of a motivational poster, but those things sell because they often speak truth. Well, that and they usually have kittens or something on them, but that's beside the point. Inspiration doesn't knock on your door every morning to tell you to start creating, you just have to be in the moment and go for it. Many musicians have experienced a moment of creating something significant and not being able to explain where they got the idea. That beautiful instant where you look at the rest of the band and say, “Holy shit, did we just do that?!” which is almost always immediately followed by trying to recreate that moment that just gave you chills. Those moments only happen when you “let go” of everything or as Bruce Lee would say “become water”. When you try to perfectly recreate those moments, you're holding on to the past without realizing it; more often than not, you recreate the sounds, but don't get the same chills. There are no time machines and even if there were, I'm sure some genius would go back and do something that ruins life for everyone else. It's best to leave the past where it is, because that's exactly where it belongs.

Finding where you belong is a major part of everyone's life, some people struggle with it for years and some just have it fall in their lap. No matter what kind of profession you pursue or what level of said profession you care to reach, finding your place in the world and being okay with yourself is imperative. I'm no expert in either of these things, but I know with almost complete certainty that the first step to achieving any sort of success is doing what makes you happy. It sounds a lot simpler than it actually is, but I have found that being able to “go with the flow” is incredibly helpful and you can't do that if you're busy believing naysayers and doubting yourself. I've searched inward, outward and all over to find the things that work for me and slowly, but surely, I'm getting to where I want to be in life by taking care of myself and learning to master my own thoughts. Anyone who's read “The Art of War” can tell you that a strong mind is your best line of defense as well as offense. Life is a battlefield, my suggestion is to sharpen your greatest weapon.

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