One evening, while sitting on velvet lounge chairs at a venue my friend and I were far too young to be patroning, in a fit of uncharacteristic (read: alcohol-infused) inspiration, I shared my dream in full for the first time.
I had little idea what I was going to say before I started, but, taking a sip of my overpriced bourbon, I just let it rip. And what followed was like an out-of-body experience: a narrative flowed out of me, so rich with details of my deepest desires that, under daylight, I never would have admitted I wanted for my twenty-two-year old self.
Speaking it aloud, suddenly, the dream didn’t feel as ridiculous or intangible as it did in my head. I let myself speak it all out, not slowing down for the sake of humility, and felt my heart relax as tears welled up. In painting my future, encased in that velvet lounge, I moved myself.
But then, on returning to the present, I was instantly reminded of why I had not let myself (ever!) fully express my desires: all of the reasons why I could not live that dream crept into my head in a sort of masochistic retaliation.
It sounded like this:
“I couldn’t possibly have two albums recorded and published and be performing at the Newport Folk Festival with a band of my favorite people before I’m thirty. Didn’t I know how many people are currently, as I sit here, working their asses off for that position?”
“I don’t practice or work nearly hard enough, nor am I as naturally talented as the lot of them.”
“Also, I am about to head into a full-time position, moving out to LA within the month to start the job in September. This job is going to kick my ass… “
“When am I ever going to have time for my art again?”
“Or, in that same vein, when will I have time to date and meet my life partner? Or travel the world?”
Immediately after giving voice to my full dream – and maybe you have had this experience too – it was as if the floodgates opened up and all the water weight that held me back from that dream reality came rushing at me, in the form of negative inner dialogue and crippling anxiety.
What we could all benefit from practicing more of, however, and this is Handel Group®’s gift to us, is to be told that we don’t need to listen to those reasons “why not” – those excuses we use to keep us from action. Instead, we can learn to recognize those suppressive voices, name them, and get swimming against their current.
For me, I am most intensely up against my Brat and Chicken, a.k.a. my voices of laziness and fear, respectively.
My Brat would have me believe that I am too tired to play music, when the actual truth (however silenced) is that playing music actually energizes and replenishes me. That voice wins when I procrastinate, when I decide NOT TO PRACTICE TODAY, and under its rule I will never be the musician I dream to be, and (more importantly) never deserve the dream I felt that night.
The same goes for my Chicken, which misses the fact that I MOVED TO LA, the land of performance artistry, and which is dead-scared of getting in line with all the other songwriters trying to make it in Hollywood.
To another pair of eyes, it may have looked like I was chasing my dreams to the West, not that I moved away from them and into the prison of a lifelong 9-to-5. Now that I am working as a producer, it is easy for me (under the influence of my chicken) to forget that I am making the connections I need to to succeed in the music industry, and that I have already written a few songs.
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As long as I keep my blinders up to that reality, as long as I am listening to my fear’s truth, I miss the way that the universe (or God, or fate–whatever you want to call it) is setting me up to walk the path towards my dream.
A year after sharing my dream, I am still chasing it, and I may be getting closer, but it is running me in circles…
I struggle with a tendency to channel my energy into working for other people. As much as I succeed in my day job, I’ll never be as proud and happy as I am when I’m making music and working on my own projects. My dream is not a straight line, but rather a winding exercise to get into greater integrity around my art, to get closer to my truth and my desires. The truth is, I am the one running in circles. Maybe circles make for a softer landing…
One thing I’m sure of, is that the only thing keeping me from reaching my dream is me. It’s always been me and the head I occasionally (more so than I like) call home.
Maybe it’s you (and yours) too.