When I was a child my parents took me to church. They would give me a quarter for the collection plate. In Korea, I saw Buddhists pay clerics to light incense and hang prayer papers. When I saw a fountain, I would ask them for a penny. I suppose I thought of God in much the same way that I imagined a wishing well... Give something to the world with a good intention and fondly hope for favorable results.
Somehow asking the universe for favors is acceptable... Asking other people, particularly strangers- It is daunting.
On a nearly weekly basis I hear the same conversation with other musicians- about how we hate promoting ourselves. We want to perform. We want to have more time free from our "day-jobs" to devote to our crafts. But generating income from music is difficult even for big names (i.e. Cat Power http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2012/10/theres-no-money-indie-music-cat-power-broke/58552/). How can we be confident that we are being wise in risking our time, energy, and money into recording and self-releasing a few hundred CDs... of which we give away half in the hopes of gaining a following? Booking gigs? Getting radio airtime? ...Are we confident in our skills? Our innate talents? Our developed products? Ourselves?
When I started writing music, it was so miraculous... It just happened to me, and I simply had to share it with whoever was around. As life has continued, the music took over my life- At times I write a song that I do not understand until a situation progresses... Then it feels almost prophetic.
"They get on me, wanna know, Hank-
Why do you drink?
Why do you roll smoke?
Why must you live out the songs that you wrote?
Over and over, everybody made my prediction
So if I get stoned
I'm just carryin' on an old family tradition." -Hank Williams Jr. ("Family Tradition")
I heard these words and thought- Wow! Someone else got it and boiled it down so succinctly! ...Except in my case, there are no other musicians or artists in my family. I have no legacy or inheritance. I did not study music or songwriting... I have no- excuse to claim the right, the title of artist.
At that point, I was just addicted to the rush of breathing my emotions out through my music. I was possessed by my creations, and they were not content long to be played without an audience. My songs did not care that I did not know how to play a guitar. They did not care that I had stage fright or social anxiety.
The first one came to me when I couldn't complete a love letter... The sensations that were vibrating through my mind and body could not be contained in words alone. One day, as clearly as hearing a radio play in the next room, I heard a melody in my mind, complete with lyrics... With no intention to become a musician-- or even to win the affection of the man to whom it was addressed, I wrote it down. Having never played a guitar, I borrowed one and found a chord chart online. I sat down and tried each chord until it approximated what I heard in my head. My first song was finished within few hours... But it would take me months to achieve the skills necessary to perform it. After two years, I continue to struggle to play a guitar. It is the part of the process that does not come naturally to me... It requires practice.
Different artists are endowed with different innate talents. Some hear better than others; Some can transcribe music notes as readily as I am writing these words, while others never learn to read sheet music at all; Some sing, others require instruments to create their voices, some are blessed with many abilities... However, I do believe that everything is relative.
There seems to be a reason that the most memorable historical figures and celebrities are all a little mad... Life keeps a balance. Even if maybe a few lucky individuals in this world are given extra points to play... Let me take a moment to explain the picture above from the game "The Sims". When a player creates a character, a finite number of character points are made available. One can choose to allot configurations of these points to reflect different personality types- and this version even allows the player to choose his/her character's astrological sign. Other online role-playing games (RPGs) use this point system model to allow players to specialize their characters in specific forms of magic or combat. Now... If you imagine this on the huge scale of human existence, we would have encyclopedia volumes' worth of potential talents and attributes.
I have been toying with the concept of whether or not each individual has been born with an innate purpose. If my entire life's journey is a process to lead me to the role I am supposed to play... Well, I think of it less like a road and more like a puzzle. The pieces have been lining my life's path, in no particular order, like breadcrumbs. Try as I might, I have yet to determine what the picture I have been building is supposed to resemble. It is frustrating. It is embarrassing... To go through life, trying and succeeding acceptably well, but always eventually walking away from every endeavor.
If I am a highly specialized machine. Then I am designed to absorb and digest emotional energy and turn it into art, music, self-expression... I want to be someone who cares and loves and turns the energy into help and charity... but I can not seem to do the work hands on. The more I fight against my nature, the more overwhelmed and exhausted I feel... I really can not handle getting too close to people. Everything feels dramatic. Everything is difficult to sift through... walking through other people's emotional energy is like wading through applesauce, breathing smoke.
...After my last published blog entry, I watched the number of my pageviews double over one month. I realized that if I had just 50 cents for every pageview, it would pay for my health insurance. I do not expect my friends and family to carry me. I have had readers from 10 different countries, and I have faith that my stories are worth telling... If they are worth your time to read, please considering leaving a tip as well.
Thank you for your time and attention. I am grateful to have an audience.