Monday, November 16, 2009

Like music to my ears...

Long before I entered the glorious world of Environmental Risk Management, long before the suit and tie, long before the new car, before the weekly massages, or the blackberry... long before I knew what I was going to do for my career and long before I ever imagined myself as an office worker I was in a band.

I played drums in a local rock band. We had a pretty good following too. We averaged about 8 shows a month and had a great time doing it.

It's amazing how much things change.

Before I spent my days looking over Experience Modification reports for new prospects, I spent them stuffing our demo CD into envelopes with the guitarist in the band. Weeknights, now relegated for 'quiet' study time were spent in loud, humid, worn down bars and clubs playing to our drunken friends and supportive families. Life was simple.

I never had more than a few dollars in my pocket, but I never cared. Money was nothing to me. Just a green colored thing I only saw in bank heist movies, and on TV. I didn't own anything. My TV was handed down twice over, my clothes came from the thrift store, and my car only survived because my sister's boyfriend (and now my brother in law) owns an auto repair center.

I wore ripped jeans not just because I thought it was cool but because I couldn't really afford new ones. I roomed with my sister in a small, but cozy apartment a few towns over from where I grew up. We had no cable, we had no internet, we had no phone line. For 2 years I sat nightly in my cold room, bundled up under a billion colorful blankets, and I would read and read. Kerouac and Kurzwiel were my weapons of choice. I worked the overnights at a local radio station for a few extra bucks, but really music was job.

It's amazing how much things have changed.

Eventually I picked up an acoustic guitar and began to write my own songs. I literally saved up to buy a space heater that was expensive enough not to pose a significant fire hazard. Tracy (my sister) and I lived on pasta, and we loved every minute of it. Life was simple and life was good.

Over this past weekend I took a ride down to the music store where I used to buy all my gear (and used to spend most of my time ogling over the drum kits I would never be able to afford). It was like being thrown back into a different era.

I felt out of place in my Gap sweater vest and $80 Macy's jeans.

I was told by a lot of people that I was wasting my time playing in the band and that it would never pay off. They were right. I was told by a lot of people that it would all be for nothing and the whole thing would cost me way more money than I would ever make. They were right. I was told over and over after every empty show in all of those old, beat up bars that it wouldn't pay off. They were right.

But I didn't care.

Music gave me something. Something no college class, book, conference call or seminar could give me. It gave me grit. It gave me drive. It gave me motivation.

As I strolled through the music shop this weekend I noticed a young boy sitting down in front of an amplifier strumming away at a guitar that I'm sure he couldn't afford. His father came over and sat next to him, giving him a few pointers about the song he was playing. I stood there and watched the two of them go back and forth for a couple of minutes.

No that young boy will probably never make a living off of playing the guitar. No he won't be a famous rockstar who dates beautiful actresses and tours the globe playing nightly to thousands of screaming fans. He'll never be on TV, he'll never be on the radio and he'll never be the headlining act at Madison Square Garden.

But he's going to be given a great gift. The gift of passion. Whether or not that translates to success as a musician doesn't matter.

Passion is what drives me, and it's what drives people to succeed. There is no Passion 101 when you go to college. There are no passion conference calls or passion seminars. Passion is buried deep inside a person. Most people go their whole lives running the motions waiting out the weekends and the occasional trip down south.

But me, I'm different. I am truly passionate about what I do. I am truly driven to accomplish my definition of success.

That young boy is going to learn a lot. He'll learn what pure elation feels like, he'll learn was heartbreak and disappointment feel like... but most importantly he'll learn what it's like to be truly passionate.

It was the greatest thing music gave me... and it will be the greatest thing music gives him.

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