Monday, March 06, 2006

Living in two worlds and the insistent call of my Muse

It's a Monday, for sure. It's my first workday with wife away on Sanibel Island. Got to work on time, had my second cup of coffee. Got a big hearing this afternoon. No, I'm not in trouble - my agency is holding a hearing on a big issue, and I'm one of the folks who helped write the recommendation for our commissioners. This is my day job, which is quite different from the music I play for my second career.

I straddle two completely different worlds, one white-collar and the other no-collar. My therapist said I'm one of those rare people who can activate both the left and right sides of their brains. He says this creates unique opportunities for therapy.

I told my therapist that I didn't chose music; it chose me. I know the first time I heard music it flipped some kind of switch inside my soul, and I was never the same. I've even tried to give it up several times in my life because of the angst generated by the tension between my music passion and the rest of my life. I hate conflict, and as a lifelong conflict-avoider I've often chosen to give up the pursuit of my music passion in return for the promise of peace in my life. But my Muse will not still her call upon my soul, and so I've always been drawn back into music.

A stranger in strange lands
My dual-world living, plus my need for approval/affirmation/confirmation from others has often combined over the years to make me feel like a loner.

While I'm working my white-collar job, I want people around me to know that I'm also a professional musician. I'm so proud of it. But people in this world don't understand and don't care about the music world. Somehow I expect them to marvel at my ability to exist in both worlds, but they just don't get it. I sometimes feel minimized by their ignorance or lack of interest.

On the other hand, when I'm in the music world, I may want my fellow musicians to know that I work a seriously intellectual, white-collar job for a living. But I have to be careful about this, because most full-time musicians barely eek out a living with their art, whereas I can live comfortably with my day job's income and do music for fun when and where I choose. So for me to say a lot about my day job sounds like a put-down to someone who works part-time between national tours with name artists.

Perception is reality
This growing realization that people exist in their own worlds has shaped my personal philosophy of life. I have realized that perception is reality, so what you're blind to essentially doesn't exist. But, the good news is that you can expand your consciousness if you're willing to let go of preconceived notions about the nature of reality. For most people this is just too scary to conceive, because it potentially threatens their own hold on reality.

What is success?
My own sense of accomplishment and self-worth has taken a hit. Because I focus my energies on two completely separate and different endeavors, I have never managed to "make it to the top" of either one. I know in my heart of hearts that if I had decided to devote my entire life to music, that I could have "made it" in the sense of being a well-known and respected musical artist, someone maybe in the mold of Leon Russell or Billy Joel. Not that I want to be those people, it's just that I realize that I have as much talent as them, and that I could have developed it if I'd given it the time that I devoted to raising a family and sustaining a white-collar career.

But this works both ways, too. If I had been able to focus all my energies on my day job, I definitely could have accomplished much more in the way of rising farther in the business and having a lot more material successes. This goes all the way back to school. I never did focus my whole attention on my studies, and hence never earned the high grades that my raw intellect would have easily accomplished. Who knows what heights I may have scaled if I had ever been able to put all of my eggs into one basket?

My ability to use both sides of my brain is really a two-edged sword, which isn't really the right metaphor. But it'll do for now.

Late bloomer
However, I do see great possibilities in store for my future. Because I'm such an anal packrat, I've accumulated tons of material about my life in bands, and because I'm such a good writer, I know that I can tell stories about my experiences. It is precisely because I can exist in these disparate worlds that gives me a special edge in being able to tell these stories. I have written many of them down in various formats over the years, and now I see that in the future I may be able to earn some income by writing. Because I can tell the stories that few others can. I live the life inside music, and I can also write intelligently about it. I have the heart of an artist and the mind of a writer.

I've never dreamed how I would actually combine these two worlds, but now I can see it on the horizon. The unconditional support of my wife is the key, I think, to unlocking my potential.

Lipstick Lounge
Last Saturday night was very exhausting and musically frustrating because of the wretched sound on stage. I wondered to myself afterwards it this is worth it. But I know I'll be doing the same thing again and again. I had much more fun accompanying Gordon Ellis on Tuesday at the writers' night, and made a lot more money per hour. On Tuesday I earned $20 for 3o minutes, and Saturday I earned $100 for 3 hours. I spent 20+ hours learning the 42 songs for Saturday night versus the 2 hours or so I spent learning Gordon's 6 songs. But I know that I'll be back again when the phone rings. You just can't turn down work when you're trying to get your foot in the door. I hope that my calendar will soon fill with more creative work.

Good week for wife
I hope my dear wife is having the time of her life on Sanibel Island. It's 46 degrees and cloudy now in Nashville, versus 66 and sunny on Sanibel. The high here will be 55, and the high in Sanibel will be 78. The weather all week on Sanibel is supposed to be great, with highs in the hi 70s and low 80s. The girls should get their fill of shell hunting and relaxing on the beach. She just called me from the beach, as a matter of fact. She was doing just what I imagined - relaxing on the beach while her friend and her friend's mother walked in search of more shells.

Well, it's time for me need to get to work. But I keep interrupting my work with edits to this post. Just now I went to the bathroom, and while there, had this revelation about the philosophical stuff I wrote above. See how it works?

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