I don't remember why, but the thought crossed my mind again this week. Why do I do what I do? Why not have a 'normal' life? Why not have more reliable income (although I have to think I have it really good when I hear most musicians talk about money)? Why put up with the non stop job (gig) hunting? Why continue to chase booking agents, talent buyers, bar managers, etc when they don't generally give you the same courtesy by returning emails, phone calls, or texts? Why?
Why put SO much into something with your heart and soul that, if you let it, will eat at you from the inside out. That nagging, negative voice that it so hard to shake. The days, weeks, months on the road away from home. The constant feeling that you never really get paid what you know you're worth.
Why 'keep on keeping on' ?
I'm not doing it for me. I'm doing it for music lovers. Honestly, I don't really care to be the center of attention. I'm not a social butterfly. I HATE having my photo taken. I don't really care to have all eyes on me. It's not my personality and it's not my motivation.
The amount of effort it takes to keep the ship afloat can consume you. It's a very selfish pursuit most of the time. It takes you away from friends and family often and doesn't always reveal a good reason why it has done so.
So again, I ask 'why'?
I'll tell you why. Because I'm compelled to do so. It's true, I don't do it for me. I am just as happy, if not more, just sitting around at home pickin' guitar and singing tunes to myself or my wife. Sometimes the dog. That's really enough for me.
But I'm compelled to share it. I'm compelled to carry on a tradition that I was taught was a gift. I'm compelled to do my darndest to make people feel the way my Grandma Lina made people feel when they were guests in her home.
I'm compelled to feel that feeling I could only imagine when she would tell me about her youth and the singing and the dancing that made her so happy.
I'm compelled to do my best to recreate that feeling I can see on my Granpa Adam's face when he tells me about growing up in the old neighborhood in San Antonio. Poor. Dirt floors. Going to school with no shoes. But how at night they'd sneak out to go hear music coming from the honky tonks and jook joints across town and just how amazing that music was.
I'm compelled to reach that level of joy that my Grandpa Carmen had when near the end of his life, like a child with a new toy, he showed me all his latest percussion instruments he'd bought and how he was still playing them in the Church band.
Because I think of all the chaos of my childhood and how music soothed me. It took me to other worlds. It saved me from a 'normal' life.
It saved me from the fear of not having reliable income. I mean, no one's job is really reliable anyway. We only THINK we have security in this life, let alone in a job.
It saved me from being too lazy, timid, or shy to job (gig) hunt everyday. It made me tough. Immune to the unreturned emails, phone calls, texts, and rejection.
It gave me a voice that's stronger and more powerful than the negative nagging one that sometimes barks at me.
It gave me the endurance to 'keep on keeping on'.
It gave me the work ethic to make the most of my gift so that my selfishness is not in vain.
Music is powerful and if I can make other people feel good, happy, and get them dancing, then I feel good. I'm happy.
So thank you music lovers and fellow musicians, as another great week of music is on the horizon!