This Life

I suppose some of you might idly wonder what it’s like to be a full-time musician.

This could be a seventy-billion part series. (There would, of course, be High Drama, a la the original Dallas series. Also big hats. Also, conversations where everyone faces away from one another.)

My thought for today is this: this life is Great. And also really, really, really hard.

On the one hand: freedom to create, to express, and most importantly to connect with other people, in the hopes that, just when they feel isolated, or weird, or lonely, your song will reach them, and they will know at least one other person has *been there*.

What a privilege!

Doesn’t it feel so… oh, it’s a relief, isn’t it, to be understood? To read or hear something that makes your soul say Yes, that is how it is for me. So then what a grace to be the creator of that thing.

But then the downsides… they are legion. Mostly, what wears us all down is the grain of sand in the shoe, which for many of us is the constant subjugating of the artist part in service of the everything-else-that-is-necessary work.

In today’s world the expectation is that an artist will, fairly close to literally, do everything his or herself. There are only so many life hours to go around, my friends, and there is only so much one person can be good at. And to be Really Good at something, one must put a lot of focused time into it.

So… choose to be Really Good at social networking? or Really Good at writing songs and playing them? What about recording, sound engineering, photo editing, video making, website creating? You’ll need all those too.

What if you’re not There yet? How will you earn money while you are building all those skills, growing your following, honing your craft, improving your playing? Would you like also to exercise, and sleep enough, and have healthy relationships? (Let’s not get greedy.)

I wish I knew how it was done. What I do know is this: there is no sure path, no merit-based pay increase, no tick upwards for hard work. Some rise, and some labor in poverty. There is no correlation between high quality and financial remuneration.

When I step back and look, I want to stop.

For today, I just…won’t look.

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