Well I certainly can’t concentrate on this other work I’m supposed to be doing, so I might as well do something productive, if only productive in the sense that it may help clear my head a little. Maybe.
Perhaps what I should do is actually make a list of what I’d like to do. Just that. What I’d like to do, without speculating on what I actually can do, or have the time to do, or the education, or whatever other walls I keep running headfirst into.
These are not in order of priority. They are in order of what I’m thinking about and typing.
1. Be successful musically. I don’t know exactly what this looks like. But I know I don’t have the American Idol notion of “making it big time,” with a big record label contract and people to do my hair for me. I don’t see a tour bus or an arena full of 20,000 fans, and $50 ticket sales. I see it being somehow sustainable, but not necessarily (and not likely) glamorous. The small bands we’ve fallen in with recently–all the Whitmores and the Brown Birds and those type of performers–I see it more like that. I would be more than happy with that.
2. Continue writing, and improve my writing. This will lend itself nicely to item 1. And I’m trying. Maybe I can try harder. But I come home from this soul-sucking asylum and I just don’t feel like I have anything left. The ease with which I could just come home, drink most of a bottle of wine and fall asleep on the couch actually scares me. I’m so exhausted by it mentally, which then manifests physically, which then spirals back down into this depression that I just can’t seem to shake. The depression that, unlike in high school, now seems to be too deep to write from anymore. I can’t figure it out, and I don’t know how to fix it. But the songs come if I coax them enough, so I’m doing my best with that.
3. Continue building my instrument skills. I don’t spend as much time on this as I’d like. I’m not making excuses. Some of it ties into item 2. Some of it is just fear–looking at how good I’m not, how good I want to be, rather than the progress I’ve already made. Pairing that with my fear of running out of time. And instead of motivating me, it seems to cripple me–overwhelm me. Again, these are not excuses. This is just me taking a very honest look at my mental processes and reporting what I see. Looking at it and being honest about it may be the only way I’ll manage to change it.
4. Leave the city, and the corporate life. It’s not for me, and I hate it. I really, actually, fully, completely hate it. I don’t want to be in this lifeless, overcrowded town anymore. I don’t want to be around the consumption and the materialism and the arrogance anymore. And the traffic and the smog and the McMansions and the crime and the poverty and the wealth. I’m not so naive as to think that moving to the country will make these things stop existing, but at least I would be away from it. I want to be somewhere real, doing real things. I want to physically work hard to build and create things. To create my home. I want to be out in nature without having to drive 200 miles to get there. Because that’s the only way my creativity will survive. I need the quiet. I need the peace. I need the space. The concrete way of living that, ironically, has absolutely nothing to do with concrete.
5. Be self-sustaining. This is vague and broad, and maybe just a combination of the previous four things. But it specifically emphasizes my desire to not work for someone else, and instead create something that sustains itself. Is that following the music? Is that running some kind of apocalyptic off-the-grid, solar-powered farm? Is that designing and building some other kind of business? I don’t know yet. I get these ideas–ideas that seem really feasible–but somehow or another I seem to tear them up before I even get them out of the box, and here I sit, 11 years, 1 day and counting, at this same damn job, and no closer to leaving it. No, in fact, with the raises and bonuses and benefits, I feel myself more and more tied to it every year. The studio idea really appeals to me. I have this great little picture in my head of a nice little place out in the country somewhere, with a home-built studio, where I might actually have the skills to do more than push play and pause. But I fear the part where that’s all I do. In fact, that seems to be the resounding theme in all of this, in all of my depression and anxiety. I don’t want to silo myself into one thing at the exclusion of all other things. Because I’ll miss out on something. And life is so desperately short, I’m realizing more and more clearly everyday. And the thought of letting something that really matters to me pass me by breaks my heart.
6. Go back to school. I’m if-y on this one. At first I was all excited. I’ve never been happy with the degree I chose in school, and I’ve hated the mental stagnation that started when I left school. And the idea of finally pursuing something that was different from anything I’d done before was so exciting. Then I got worried about the money, and about how that would just tie me to my corporate job that much more. Then I thought I’d look at it again after the summer tour. Then I realized that I’d never be able to do both. And that, between school and day job work, I’d have less time for other endeavors than I do now. And I was probably as surprised as he was at the searing jealousy that I felt when he said he’d just go out and play music and create with other people if I was too busy with school. That’s not to say he’s not right. It’s just how I felt. Logically, of course he should do that. That’s who and what he is. And I would never do anything to keep him from it. But I guess I know the intimacy that has to occur between people who create together. And the thought of sharing that just undid me. I’m telling myself that that’s a prime example of me overreacting. That it’s not logical. That it’s wrong to feel that. Maybe it will fade. I don’t mean to be this way. Sometimes I wish I could just dive into the deepest, purest lake you can imagine, clean all of this off of me, come back up and start over as a better person.
7. Marry John. Have a family. Notice, this is not me saying “get married and have a family.” I’m not looking at it that way. All my life, I could take or leave marriage–I really didn’t see the point or the benefit. And having a kid was never something I wanted. In fact, it was something I decidedly did not want. But this is different. The love and connection and understanding and trust and commitment that I feel with him is different than anything I’ve ever even imagined. Nothing has ever felt more right than being with him. I never knew there was a single person in this whole world who I could connect to this way. Who could understand me. And it changed everything. Suddenly the fear of not being able to have a family with him–getting past the years that I’d be comfortable trying that–took hold in a way that was so much stronger than I ever thought possible. I know how fast the years go now. And looking at 30 in a few short months just kind of felt like the tipping point. So I started pushing the marriage thing. I was wrong to do that. I swore I wouldn’t do that, and then I did it. And I felt hurt that he didn’t feel the immediacy the way I did. Maybe it’s because he’s already done that before. Maybe I felt the immediacy more because I haven’t. Maybe the hurt I felt was short-sighted. He’s right–the time we have now will be gone too soon, and we should just enjoy it now.
In a way, that was like a light switch for me. I’d been so caught up in thinking about what I wanted to have that I wasn’t paying attention to how things already are. No sense getting in a hurry. I love our life the way it is. It made me feel peaceful to think of it that way. But the fear of lost time still creeps in, and I’ve been feeling stuck lately because I can’t seem to reconcile the first six items on this list. And then last night the words were out of my mouth before I even knew they were coming–having a family. And then all I could do was cry about it. I know that would require a lot of changes. I’m not exactly in a hurry–despite what my “third-life-crisis” and so-called “biological clock” might suggest–but I don’t want to miss the chance.
Nothing on this list is an answer. But the noise in my head was more than I could bear, and I hoped that just getting it out and looking at it objectively would help quiet it. And I think it has somewhat. I’ll try to just keep perspective and keep it together more. Because there’s no sense in projecting my fears on anyone else.