It has been an amazing and thought-provoking New Year. I’m grateful, happy and inspired about life these days, it’s so cool to be present enough to realize it. Realize, you know, to;
1. become fully aware of (something) as a fact; understand clearly
2. cause (something desired or anticipated) to happen
I think about my life as an artist, and the other people I know who are artists. We have made a place in our lives, hearts and minds for the expression that helps us feel alive and happy.
Having times that have been less happy has been a fact of life for me. Most people experience times when we’re unsure, or feel less than capable, about reaching out for our dreams. The many realities of life have a way of coming around and slapping us on the face once in a while. When this happens, it’s hard to hold onto our dreams, hard to stay willing to do what we can to fulfill them.
When I was a teenager, it was hard to make a living as a musician, my focus on my musical dreams was easily distracted by the fun and work of staying alive. I would go in and out of musical situations, not finding one I could fight for hard enough to help make it succeed. I thought, somehow, I wouldn’t have to face the fact that if I wanted to get my musical career going I’d have to make a plan and stick to it.
There was another side of me, too. Playing music was so fun for me, and so inspiring, that I wanted to make my music life happen no matter what! After some early success with the local club scene in Seattle, I found out that making a living means figuring out how to make ends meet. So somehow I had to find a way to play enough music to feed my soul, and still have a way to pay my bills.
This is a challenge for all artists and musicians. There are many, many examples of people who worked a job they liked which enabled them to pay for the their lives and their family’s lives, who still made time to do the art they loved. Some of the most talented people in all arts did what they had to do to keep the bills paid, and also found time for their inspiration.
My story includes working on janitorial crews at the Paramount Theater in Seattle (filthy work in the late 70’s, we scraped that place) , working as a furniture builder, as a paper delivery guy, as a stagehand at the Paramount and then getting an opportunity to work as a stagehand (thank you Local 15) for Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, the 5th Avenue Theater, Seattle Repertory Theater, and other local theaters. In fact, I ran a spotlight on the band Heart (among many other bands) in 1980, never suspecting I’d one day (thanks to Scotty Olson) have the opportunity to work with Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Frank Cox and Sue Ennis in Lovemongers, which lead to playing with Heart.
My message to all artists and those who are wondering where their life will lead is this: It’s sometimes a hard thing to find work to pay your bills, but we all have to do it! Don’t sacrifice your dream for your job forever, but find a way to pay the bills as you work to honor your dream and artistic talent. It is possible that your dreams can generate momentum enough for you to make a living doing what you love!