People get inspired by lots of things: Pictures they see, songs they hear, conversations they’ve been in; lots of things. Over the course of my life, like others, I’ve gotten inspired by lots of different things, but certain wise words I’ve heard from various people have probably inspired me the most. Not surprisingly, these have mostly been things people have said to me in the context of me being a musician. I’d like to share them with you here.
“There’s always room in this world for people who are good.”
The Dean of my college said this to me during a meeting where he was deciding whether to let me back into my major, which was Biology. I was asked to take a break for a year to “evaluate” my college career. It wasn’t that my grades were bad, but I was taking under the minimum number of courses and making very little progress that year. I was just focused on ballet and playing my guitar, and didn’t really feel up to pursuing a career in a lab or going to medical school. My Dean felt that my calling was in the performing arts (I didn’t know that he was a fan at the time). As he explained to me, people who are good at what they do get noticed, so if my concern was supporting myself, as long as I put my talent out there, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting gigs.
It took me a long time time – almost 20 years – to actually heed that advice, but I took the plunge and started playing at small gigs a few years ago. I started with just a few, but now I do about 30-40 gigs a year all over my local area. I don’t get paid much, maybe a few hundred a gig, but I totally love it!
“Focus on the goal, and let the universe take care of the details…”
These are very wise words from my friend and mentor, Dan Retuta. Dan is a medicine man as well as being a 5th level black belt in Aikido. Right before I decided to start pursuing music more, I was in a discussion with Dan about the logistics of doing music as well as supporting my family. When Dan said these words, I paused because they really struck a chord in me. The point of these words is that when you focus your energy on achieving a particular goal, you will place yourself in the right situations to achieve that goal. Not only that, you will then become aware of the opportunities that have always been around you to help you achieve your goal. Very cool words…
“We’ve all entered this world with certain talents… …our particular challenge in life is step out of the way to let our talents come through.”
I actually said these words to a bunch of teenagers at a retreat, but I’ve heard them said in a variety of ways by a variety of people. The point of this particular saying is that there are so many people who have never discovered their talents, whatever they may be, because they get caught up in the ways of the world, with the chaos of life, with misconceptions and preconceptions of how their world should be. We all fall prey to this. But if we just quiet our minds, and stop trying to analyze all the minutiae, we’ll discover those talents.
From another perspective, there are those, like myself, who have had to overcome their fears in order to fully discover their talents. Again, all it takes is to step out of the way and let your talents through.
“Wanna make God laugh, tell Him about your plans…”
I forgot where I got this one from, but I look at it as a corollary to my friend Dan’s saying, and also a corollary to my own. Don’t get caught up in planning your life to the letter. Prepare for the future, yes, but always be flexible because you never know what circumstances may arise that will shatter your plans. In other words, live the “NOW.” Be aware of your past, and look ahead to your possible futures, but live NOW! There are things you have to deal with NOW! What’s past is past, and the future is never certain. The only things you truly know are what you know NOW.
So how does all this relate to playing guitar? For me personally, these sayings have served as guides to keep me centered while I pursue my musical career. My goal is to have music (and ministry) be my main source of income within the next few years. I’m taking steps towards that now, but most importantly, I’m keeping my eyes open to opportunities. And let me say that I’m not going to be shattered if it remains that I support my music through another job. I love what I do as a successful engineer. I’m building cool stuff that has an impact on people’s lives, and that’s really cool to me.
In any case, rock on!