I don’t know if other musicians feel like they’re always reaching to become who they know they are but can’t quite seem to manifest, but it’s a constant struggle for me.
Aside from the fact that I struggle with things like chronic emptiness and depression and it’s always been more of a struggle for me to follow my passion than many I know, there’s this sense inside of being always in embryo, not quite good enough.
If I measure my progress back to when I was 13 years old, learning Courtney Love, Nirvana and Beatles songs in my bedroom, I can say without a doubt I have improved considerably.
But I always wonder. Is it me, or the world keeping from moving to more of a situation where I’m getting out there with my music? Am I too picky with the people I choose to work with? Are there more venues I could play out in? Could I be dedicating more time to my craft?
The answer is yes, I do think. Always yes.
There have been a handful of musicians I’ve had the honor of meeting in my life who I aspire to be like. And it’s not that I feel like I couldn’t offer at least a quotient of what they offer, it’s that they are that much more skilled at owning it and working on the craft aspect of their trade.
So much of what I do is in the dark, as is what a lot of us do, without outside validation. We have to validate ourselves, constantly. I have to dig deep and give myself credit.
Often I feel like I’m a tree in the woods and if I were to fall, no one would even hear or notice. That could be depression talking, or it could be the fact that we are all eternally alone. I think it’s a little of both. Other people are sometimes passengers on our bus trip across life, but they come and go–they each have their own destinations.
When I’m writing my songs, tweaking them, working on lyrics/melodies/chords/transitions, it’s a solo process for me. Listening to them and honing them is also a personal process. When I’m “done” I can then run them by people (pending there are people I trust to work with at the moment) and open them up to feedback.
It all takes so long…
And to what end? So that I can listen to them and go, “Hey, I just captured perfectly what I was feeling, that was amazing.” Or so I can play them at an open mic and get a compliment or two. Or so I can play them at a coffee shop while everyone is eating. Or so I can play them at a larger venue and get lots of positive feedback. I’ve done all of these things.
It’s crazy, to have so much intensity and passion towards one art form and to always feel like you come up short no matter what you do, to have your own sense of “what’s the point” always kicking you in the ass, trying to keep you from moving forward. And at that point it’s a matter of, oh, it seems like THAT person has so much more (insert blank).
I don’t know. I’m behind skin, blood and bones. I can’t really comprehend what connection means, or if we can ever transcend the barriers to connection–if it’s all just chemical and illusion–but I’ve got this drive and I can’t stifle it no matter how hard I’ve tried. So I have to trust that if I have the talent and the drive and work hard, I will succeed at connecting in some nebulous way, I just have to pay attention so I don’t miss when I do.