Posted in yesterday. today. tomorrow.

advice of the rich and famous

 

now playing: dan may, “enjoy”

 

i will say this…autumn is a much better time of year for extended introspection.

summer never really seemed to work for me, in that department.

it’s been a long time since i’ve had anything of substance to say here (and yes, it’s been pointed out to me a time or two…or seven…or so…), and i don’t really know what to say about that, except that my silence hasn’t been relegated strictly to this space. i’ve spent a lot of time in my head these past few weeks – not with any intent to freeze anyone out, but i simply haven’t felt much like discussing anything with anyone.

this isn’t a quirk that’s exclusive to me, and it’s not something that i pride myself in, but sometimes i just process information better when i chew on it for a while.

it’s funny…when my kids were little and i was playing full time, i used to look at folks who cashed in their dreams early on with regard to how i perceived their pursuits in life…you know, the whole “go to college and get married and have a family and kids and buy the house and the minivan” thing…i used to feel sorry for them for not taking time to find something that they could be passionate about, something to do that they loved, something that brought some joy to their lives. i thought that because the path they chose was so conventional, that it couldn’t possibly be exciting in any form or fashion. i loved the fact that what i did was so non-conformist, so rebellious (at the time), that i was living my life the way i wanted, outside the realm of what was expected of someone in my particular position. i played music for a living, i came home and spent the day with my kids and gigged at night, and while no one was getting rich, we were getting by.

now, though, i look around myself at people my age who have managed to save money, who have nice houses and nice cars and comfortable lives and i have to admit to myself that i feel a little envious at times. i question the choices i made earlier in life, with regard to how i went about things, how i tackled chasing my particular dream – and what i have to show for it all these years later.

now, i’m sure that if i were successful in some regard (which is to say “successful” by societys’ standards…which translates to money more so than anything else), then i’d be singing a completely different tune. i’d be sitting here telling you that you should follow your dream no matter what, and to be prepared to struggle through the tough times, because there’s a pot of gold at the end of the alleged rainbow, keep your chin up, when god closes a door, he opens a window…all that crap that people say to you when their own personal gamble paid off.

and the reason that you hear all that horseshit all the time is because we only really listen to people who managed to be successful in whatever field they chose. why? because when we want to know how to carry something out, we seek out people who have been successful in what it is that they do. if you want to know how to succeed in real estate, you go buy carleton sheets’ home study course and start there…you don’t seek out the advice of someone who failed miserably in the real estate game, you go immediately to the other end of the spectrum and find out all about what your chosen success story did to climb to the top of the ladder.

me? nowadays, i’m thinking that i’d rather hear from the guy who lost his ass to find out what he did to bring about his own particular catastrophe so i wouldn’t make the same mistake.

aretha franklin’s father, reverend paul franklin, is credited with saying that people who plan for failure are planning to fail…i don’t know if i see it that way now. i guess it could be said, and applied to my career as a musician with regard to some of my thoughts nowadays. i mean, seeking out the stories of people who fell flat on their faces might not necessarily qualify as creating your master plan for world domination…

but then again, someone once said that those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

i’d like to think my motivation for collecting tales of failure would fall between those two camps, with a definite lean towards the latter statement.

where i stand now, though, is something of a fixed position. i know what i have to do to take the next step, in terms of continuing a career as a musician, but i’m paralyzed and largely unable to do so. i have a family, a job, and obligations that aren’t going anywhere, and they keep me where i am. why? because i’ve allowed myself to become comfortable – which, in my case, translates to lazy. too lazy to do what’s necessary to take that next step, anyway.

now when i say it that way, it sounds as though there’s resentment on my part, but i guess what i’m trying to say is that by embracing those things, it points a person in a direction other than where i’ve thought my whole life that i’d be going. so that, in turn, means that i’m back on the path of all those people i used to look upon with a certain amount of inward scorn all those years ago.

in other words, i’m one of them now.

and i look around my life and the direction that these realizations points me in, and it occurs to me that i have a lot of catching up to do. more catching up, in fact, than i’m really capable of. in the short term, certainly.

so, at some point, i either have to come up with some sort of plan to get myself together and be a suburban middle-aged working class character from jackson browne’s “pretender”, or i have to make peace with who i’ve been and accept the losses that come with continuing to be that person.

right now, i’m none of the above, and yet i have elements of both.

i look around myself and i see parts of my life that i have a tentative grip on at best, other parts that i can’t seem to shake, things that i’m perfectly content with and things that i would change in a heartbeat…and the list seems to change every day. i don’t know what any of this means. the only logical conclusion i can really arrive at is that this many options and this much confusion must mean that i’m just not meant to make any decisions about anything significant right now…so i continue to bide my time.

i don’t know, though, how much longer i can really continue to do that.

 

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Author:

tom is a personally and politically malcontent musician, songwriter, sideman and session cat living in East Nashville, Tennessee.

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