My relationship with music has always been terribly complicated. It has carried me through some of my most difficult times. It’s also up and deserted me.
Growing up, failure was never really an option. I still remember the feeling of coming home with my first B on a report card. I opened it up and I was frozen in fear. That was the longest walk home of my life and I thought that night would never end. Time isn’t so cruel as that; it did end. But even though the time would pass, the bite of staring your fallibility in the face never really did for me.
I’ve never had a problem with arrogance. Quite the opposite. I’ve always been acutely aware of my faults and my shortcomings. I try to steer clear as much as possible but… astigmatism (sorry, son). In every way, I consider myself to be an optimist, except when it comes to myself. With me, all manner of crash-and-burn, blockbuster-worthy disasters are possible. No, probable.
It’s not that I don’t think I’m capable. I know I’m capable. It’s just that the left side of my brain can’t help but focus on all the unknown variables. Sure, you’re good. You might even be great. Cool. So are a lot of other people.
My entire worldview is one of constraining the ego, seeing the best of myself in others and seeing the worst of others in me. It’s been incredibly helpful in directing and centering my efforts around something meaningful. But sometimes it’s a trap that animates my hard-won self-awareness into a sort of bully.
Fear can pervert & weaponize even the best of intentions. Sometimes, your intentions don’t matter. Sometimes, the only thing that matters is what they leave behind.
Today, as I sat down to write a new song, I felt it again: I was frozen. The words were all derivative, the chords were all stale. The pages were piling up in the trash. Only this time, I did something a little different. I faced the silence. This mortal enemy of mine, this unwelcome void of creativity, I invited it in for a conversation and gave it a seat at my table. I asked it why it was so quiet, where it tucked away all of the feelings that were just here a minute ago.
Today, I confronted my fear and forced it to account. Instead of walking away and letting it off easy, I sat with the stillness. I stood my ground. I badgered, I blustered, I bluffed.
And out came the song. Another one that I love. It’s called “Dreamer” and I can’t wait to share it with you.
It’s amazing what you can do with a bit of confidence. Arrogance, even?
Yeah, arrogance. Just don’t overplay the hand.