Three weeks ago I had a mid-life crisis. At 37.
It wasn’t pretty. It was a total breakdown of sorts — full of emotions, self-doubt, and painful reflection.
What am I doing with my life and how did I get here?
That’s me playing the piano that I got for Christmas. I think the following year (maybe the next, I don’t know), I got a sweet KISS guitar. I didn’t really learn to play either of them at the time, but when I was 5, my parents started me with violin lessons. Those stuck. 32 years later I’m still playing, and learned along the way how to play guitar too (although the KISS edition is long gone).
In college I started my first band. I wrote and sang, and ran around the stage like an idiot, playing Mumford & Sons-like music long before Mumford & Sons (and way worse). But it was me, and authentic, and the happiest I’d been up to that point.
A few years after that I moved to New York City, chasing an idea of what I was supposed to do with my life. I returned a couple years later, broke and broken, chewed up and spit out.
And I’ve been chasing careers ever since.
That crisis 3 weeks ago? It was the realization that I was broke and broken again; chewed up and spit out. By life. And fear.
Music had always come pretty easily to me. It mostly came “easy” because I practiced my ass off those 10,000+ hours since childhood; but too because I believe now it’s what I was supposed to be doing in my life. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s why I’m on this planet. And because of something I can’t understand — and way bigger than myself — it’s always flowed through me, bad notes and all.
But because of the fear of exposing myself to criticism in my 20s and most of my 30s — and because it became tougher to forge a career as I got older — I gave up. The crisis was realizing that I was broke again; physically, spiritually, artistically. This time, if I was to survive I had to do something about it.
What I didn’t realize is that that fear become so engrained in my soul over the years that it manifested into a hidden cancer — an unhappiness that’s been a part of me for so long that I don’t remember what it’s like not being there. It’s cost me money. It’s cost me friendships. It’s cost me relationships with people who loved me. Even as recently as this year it cost me love and happiness. And it blinded me to the support of people who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself, which may be the most selfish act of all.
Every time I think about what truly makes me happy, it’s music. When I think about my skill-sets — what I do well or at least competently — it’s music. But because the fear had such a control over me, I couldn’t see it anymore. At 37, I decided I needed to either recommit my life to it, or give it up completely. Either option was better than the pain I’ve been feeling of half-assing my way through life all these years.
The problem? I don’t even know how to do it anymore. I don’t know how artists even navigate through this crowded world of music. I don’t know how any of them make a living at it, if they even do. And I don’t know if I have the chops anymore.
But I do know this: that’s Fear again, raising its insidious, disgusting head. I’m sick of him. I’m sick of his lies and I’m sick of his bullshit. And I’m taking my life back.
So, what’s this all mean? . . .
It means I’m going all-in.
I’m becoming a musician and a writer again, and this time I’m fighting Fear with the understanding that it’s not real. It’s all made-up.
Why am I doing this?
Because I have to. I owe it to everyone who loves me or has loved me. I owe it to everyone who’s supported me throughout everything in my life — their/your actions should not be in vain. I owe it to myself to be happy and live fearlessly. And I owe it to that 2-year old boy up there whose life is ahead of him, full of wonder, joy, and music.
So here we are — the phoenix is rising.
It’s been a few weeks since the crisis — I’ve finished some songs, I’ve written some new ones, and we’ve recorded a few that I’ll be sharing soon. Those steps alone are more than I’ve done in years.
I’m also relaunching this website to document the journey. For now, it’ll be about storytelling as I get back on that bike again. In the coming days, there’ll be more blog posts — some very personal, some inspirational, all transparent — new songs to be released and shared with you all, video, and lots of news as I start over.
For now, you can like my new artist page on Facebook (here). There (and here) you can keep up, comment, share, whatever you’d like. Maybe it’ll inspire others to live a little more fearlessly. Maybe it’ll make you feel a little better about yourself to see me fall on my face. Or maybe you’ll like what I have to say or the tunes I/we put out. Either way, I don’t care anymore because I have work to do, thank you very much.
And I do mean that thank you sincerely. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
September 22, 2014