No One’s Thing to Write a Song About

My qualms and concerns since commencing this westward expansion have been fairly consistent – money. Not a day passes that I don’t become overwhelmed by fear, but this is far from anything new. There is a somewhat separate concern, of not finding a way to make a living doing what I want to do. But this, too, just as easily becomes about money. Unless the culture changes dramatically, I will need reliable income to live, and I am not at any point of comfort with regards to it. I’d like to say that I’m close, but I’m probably not. At best my future is [pock]marked by uncertainty. This alone can trigger the familiar, rising, surging, all-encompassing panic that is impossible to make friends with. Maybe I can say to myself, someday, that cheesy postlude about it all being worth it in the end, but I certainly wouldn’t say it now. I’m not there yet. There is certainly joy in my life, but it comes in small bursts. In between, my mind tends to race back and forth, like strands of rope being pulled in opposite directions, always tense and taut. It’s another part of me that isn’t new, but is nonetheless an eternal challenge.

Since I arrived in my Pacific abode, I’ve been charging forward with my music, playing as many ‘open mics’ as possible. It stems from necessity as much as desire – I know virtually no one around here, so it fulfills a social as well as occupational purpose. I also get my most joy from playing for an appreciative crowd to good effect. However, I have to constantly be restoring my faith in its usefulness, since it is an inherently impractical thing. It is a difficult life, to exert so much energy towards a highly uncertain end. Of course, music is not the only thing I’m able to do well, but it’s probably the only skill I have that has a literal voice of its own. My artwork is what it is; it does not scream and howl. But music is harder to ignore. It is its own language. The thing that I enjoy the least is writing lyrics, because I find it can just as easily detract from the beauty of the rhythm and the melody. When I play music, it works better when words are the last thing on my mind. The way I write songs is always music first, lyrics second. And many times this terminal step can get in the way. It all improves the more I play in front of people. And I suspect it will continue to. I do not think in words – not even when I’m writing, as I am now. One could say that integrating them into my life has been the root challenge; analogous to making my skills ‘marketable’. I simply cannot justify doing something for the sole purpose of money. I have tried. It doesn’t work. In fact, it often causes problems, especially for others.

My life is scarcely rapturous; and is at times relentlessly lonely and uncertain. I once had a poster in my room titled ‘how to be an artist’ followed by many tidbits, one of which was ‘make friends with freedom and uncertainty’. It is very much a part of me. So is the anxiety and fear that can accompany it. But, it was never a choice – I did not choose this life. It chose me.