The Independent Musician

People ask me, sometimes, how I keep going.  I’ve never had a big break.  I have waded in obscurity, as a musician, essentially, forever.  I’ve locked myself away to work on sounds that I hoped would somehow change the world.  And with each day and each month spent on that music, my hope would grow; I’d become so sure that whatever project I was involved with would bring me to a broader audience, I could so vividly imagine it – that I felt as though I was almost there.  Then I would release the project, and find that those feelings were mirages, stuff of my imagination.  The music just wouldn’t grab on like I’d hoped; then, subsequently, I’d make the plunge into disappointment.  I’d question myself as a creator, as a musician, as a writer, as a human being.  I’d feel like a fraud.  I’d stare at the ceiling and wonder why I spent so much time on something that gave me so little.  Then a week or so would pass, and the cycle would begin again; the fire of hope would start to fester.  And like this, a metronome, for years, I have been rocking back and forth between hope and discouragement, between chasing the dream and hating it.  And that is the plight of the artist who reaches for success.  It is an exhausting emotional rollercoaster.  It is a torturous and constant plucking and tearing of the heartstrings.  It is chasing shadows in a dark room with a blindfold and a stick.  And sometimes, here and there, someone will grab me by the shoulder and ask and say,  “Why are you doing this?  You don’t have to do this anymore.” 

And to them, I always say – yes – yes, in fact, I do.  There is an uncontrollable firestorm of want that is always churning within me; a want for success, a want for a larger audience, a want to affect more people, a want for a life earned by and lived through creativity, and, of course, a want to, simply, create.  It is a disease of dissatisfaction; a drive that is more compulsive than noble.  So when someone asks how I keep going, an image is brought to mind of a man tied to a raging bull by his ankle, and how funny it would be to ask him, the dragging man, the same question. 

Ambition can be such an ugly thing, I know, and want can be such an ugly thing.  But, I believe, if you aim them in the right direction, they could reach, together, immeasurable heights and solve and achieve the impossible.  So, if you are, too, being dragged by that bull of ambition - be thankful.  Some people are tied to stones and swaying on the bottom of an ocean of indifference, in a stasis of lethargy, dreading the boredom of their tomorrows, and regretting the sameness of their yesterdays.

If you have a fire within you, stoke it.  And if you don’t have one, explore until you find your spark.  Humans can be fantastically inventive, passionate things if only they find their right direction.

- Kai

In a comment below, answer this:  What are you passionate about?  What dreams pull you through life?  What sets your soul on fire?

If you missed last week's blog.  Read it here.