It can take a long time to understand yourself.
It so often happens that we’re born into situations where embracing our true desires would mean betraying the wishes of loved ones and the values held dearly by them.
Think of the recent satirical biopic – Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. The film is only loosely based on Al’s life story, but it features a trope we all know so well. Al discovers his passion for the accordion but must keep it a secret from his father. Of course, he is later discovered, and his father smashes Al’s accordion to pieces.
It’s a trope for a reason. Plenty of people have this experience or something like it.
Ironically, areas where we’re wounded most often hold the key to our desires and identify. We would not be hurt over something that did not matter to us. It’s because it matters so deeply to us that we are so vulnerable to anything opposing or attacking our desires.
The prevailing statement I’ve heard from my friends is “I thought there was something wrong with me.”
I felt the same way. In my 20s, I valued my autonomy and freedom so much that when presented with a possible job opportunity, I would take months thinking about it before ever acting on it. And by that time, it was usually too late.
As it turns out, I’ve always valued autonomy and freedom, to the point where most decisions I make are in total alignment with this value.
When we’re out of alignment with our desires, we only hold ourselves apart from what we want. We may experience a personal hell of sorts, because we try to change, or conform, or become more of what we deem acceptable by family, friends, and society at large, all the while sacrificing the essence of who we are.
You’ve got to admit to your desires. The universe is already moving that way. When you start moving that way, too, you experience flow. So much time spent not getting what we want is simply us holding ourselves apart from what we want, because we’re not willing to admit our desires.
It’s been a while since I’ve played a gig, especially one where I was tasked with providing background music.
It was a fun and pleasant experience, though, one where there was virtually no pressure. If there was any pressure, it was self-inflicted. I have a history of over-preparing and expecting great things of myself any time I’m called upon.
Fortunately, I am able to relax more nowadays, thanks to the considerable experience I have under my belt.
I remember watching a Christmas concert on TV with my family one year. For the life of me, I can’t remember who was performing. It may have been Celine Dion.
And I remember commenting out loud, “she’s singing like her career depended on it.”
In the moment, I don’t think I realized how true that was. In a time when TV was still the main channel through which information was relayed, and entertainment was programmed, performing at Christmastime would mean having all eyeballs on you. You’ve got to sing like your career depends on it.
And that’s the way I’ve approached most gigs. I know there won’t be any A&R reps there. I know there may not even be anyone to impress. I’m competing with the toughest competitor of all – myself.
I was recently re-reading my New Year content from last year, and I thought to myself, “this is probably the best I have ever written.”
See, for example, 15 Holiday Reflections to Ring in 2022, or 5 Books I Read in 2021 That Made a Difference.
I’m up against something if I want to surpass that level of writing this year.
That’s how I think about live performance as well. I’ve done a lot of cool stuff in the past, so one upping myself is not going to be easy.
But I realized something tonight.
Playing for your friends or strumming the guitar around the campfire is one thing. Strangely it feels so ordinary. But playing your heart out at stage volume? Suddenly, you realize your playing holds up. Maybe you’re not Guthrie Govan or Tosin Abasi. But you know you’ve got something.
It’s been my experience that creatives often feel a sense of pressure when confronted with the idea of “networking” or “building connections.”
Lest you consider me unsympathetic, I was very much confronted by the idea of holding a conversation with a stranger, let alone ordering food at the mall food court, in my early 20s. It took me a long time just to feel safe and comfortable with a seemingly simple exchange like that.
If we were to think of our comfort zone as a series of concentric circles, it follows that there would be a new level of comfort to develop at each step – saying “hi,” holding a meaningful conversation, making a request, asking someone out on a date, and so on.
The whole idea of comfort zones and degrees of comfort, and even the idea that you can’t network because you’re an introvert, is all made up. They are conventions to help us better understand ourselves and our surroundings, but rarely do they hold up as concrete rules without exception. Also see: Make believe.
Which is to say, it’s fine to approach the idea of a comfort zone as if you were leveling up a character in a role-playing video game, so long as you understand that you’re basically making up the rules as you go. I’m a big fan of gamifying life.
But innumerable anomalies exist in thinking there is only linear progression and no exponential progression available.
For instance, someone could go from saying “hi” to asking their crush out in a hot minute, if the desire and motivation was strong enough.
I have also found that seemingly small things like the day you’ve just had, the consumption of caffeine or alcohol, or reading 10 pages from a book can alter what you perceive as being possible for yourself. Basically, your willingness to act is a moving target, regardless of personal temperament.
All that to say, one connection can change everything. Sometimes, just one conversation can change everything. I know because I just had one of those conversations today. I can see it being a game changer in how I approach content creation, which is something I enjoy, but at times, has been a burden.
Sourcing everything from your own mind sets certain limitations in place, since you can only act on what you know, and what you know that you don’t know. If you know how to write, you can use that. If you know that you can’t speak German, you can at least take the first step today in learning a new language.
But there exists another category of knowledge – what you don’t know that you don’t know. You can’t penetrate that barrier without reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching a video, taking a course, getting into conversations, and the like.
If you source everything from what you know, you’re leaning solely on your past. That’s the biggest limitation of all. The past doesn’t equal the present let alone the future. The past can’t necessarily tell you the best course of action now. It can help, but its accuracy and efficacy are in question.
When it comes to connecting, you don’t need to force anything. You can simply allow. You can allow others to contribute. You can allow yourself to ask “stupid” questions. You can allow yourself to feel whatever you feel in terms of physical symptoms when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time. Emotions and physical symptoms don’t make an interaction “bad.”
Your next breakthrough may be waiting on the other side of a conversation. Maybe not. But how will you know unless you try?
Yesterday, I shared about the addition of The Question Podcast to my blog archives.
And today, I bring you the new podcasts page.
On the old podcast page, all you could do was subscribe to The New Music Industry Podcast and Thought Thursday. The new podcast page is a huge upgrade in that regard – you’ll be able to scan and access podcast content directly.
Now, this page should not be considered complete as of today, but I think you can see where I’m going with it.
On the left side, you’ll find links to the 100 most recent episodes of The New Music Industry Podcast, a show that’s been going strong since 2016. The last couple of weeks have been a little insane in terms of workload for me, so unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to adding a new episode in a while, but I do have many in the can to be published.
Then, on the right side of the page, you’ll find links to some of the other podcasts I’ve been involved in. There are still more shows to add to the sidebar (and thus to the archives), but all in good time.
Some shows are ostensibly complete, like The Question Podcast. Some have been on hiatus, like Thought Thursday. And some I’m either involved in or just getting started with – The New Music Industry Podcast and the brand-new Adrenalize Def Leppard Fan Podcast (which is already gaining some traction out of the gate!).
I have no plans of adding the Adrenalize Def Leppard Fan Podcast to the blog archives, at least not for now, so you will be taken offsite should you choose to listen to it. To be fair, that’s the case for The New Music Industry Podcast as well.
There is still much to do for this page to reach its full potential, but we’re getting there, so stay tuned.
In my ongoing efforts to simplify and bring my content under fewer umbrellas, I’m excited to announce the addition of all 29 episodes of The Question Podcast to my blog archives today.
I’m not looking to steal any thunder from The Question website, which will remain online indefinitely. Ostensibly completing in July 2018, the podcast (blast from the not-so-distant past), had a multi-year run, beginning October 2015. It was even available for download on iTunes while it was active.
The community began as a TEDx Talks style grassroots initiative exploring the nature of truth. Our bold community leader, Frederick Tamagi, was the primary presenter at most monthly gatherings, but I also gave a few presentations and was even onsite tech / host of the podcast. We also had performances via local poets and musicians at each gathering.
As I recall, not all presentations were ultimately turned into podcast episodes (I oversaw the initiative in my limited spare time with two helpers), but almost everything was captured and uploaded to The Question YouTube channel.
It’s times like these I’m grateful for WordPress’ import / export function, because without it, adding just five episodes to the blog would prove a lengthy and tedious process.
So far as boring technical details are concerned, though, I still plan to:
- Add a featured image to each post.
- Add a canonical link to each post.
- Revise the introduction and content for each episode.
- Add a transcription for each episode.
A Complete List of Episodes:
If you’d like to delve into one of the lesser known shows I was a part of, here’s a complete list of episodes for your perusal. You can also find everything under The Question Podcast.