Music has always been my one great love. I never fantasized about marriage or kids – that would have been too easy. My daydreams were always limited to visions of rock stardom and large amounts of wealth. I believed my band and I would write sweeping, epic masterpieces and tour the world performing them. I would have a giant house, and buy giant houses for every member of my family. I would meet fascinating people, and they would find me fascinating. I would become that elusive, magical thing that I heard in every piece of music I loved. From the age of 8, that was the only thing my heart desired.
In retrospect, it’s possible to see how the dream was lost from the beginning. For one thing, I didn’t even like my own music. (My mom did, that seemed like enough.) For another, I hate performing live. I have the worst stage fright known to man, and shake like a Chihuahua when you put me in front of an audience. What kind of masochist wants to be a rock star when they hate being the center of attention? When I break it down, what was it exactly that I wanted?
Growing up, I was obsessed with the radio. My clock radio/cassette recorder and I spent many long hours together, me waiting breathlessly with my finger on the “record” button so I could capture my favorite song when it came on. When the song did finally enter my ears, I was transfixed and elated – I felt joined with something much bigger than myself. It was this feeling that drove me to dream so hard, not the love of performing. I wanted to become that feeling, for it to be permanently fixed in my heart and mind. Believing anything outside of myself would make this possible was perhaps my first mistake.
When it finally dawned on me that my life-long dream of becoming a famous songwriter was not going to come to fruition, I went to bed. Not for the night, but for 3 weeks. I was heartbroken. All around me I saw people succeeding with their music, and it made me miserable. Why couldn’t I have my dream when it seemed to happen to people all the time?
Later on I would tell my therapist that I equated music with God. Somewhere in my 8-year-old mind, I connected my musical heros with that great mysterious power. Call it God, or divinity or whatever, but that is what I was pining for all along.
I think this is true of everyone. Whether your prevailing desire is love, success, money or fame, the underlying hunger is to be deeply connected with something. Regardless of life’s circumstances, this connection is possible. The trick is that it isn’t something you can chase after. What’s the point in chasing something that is with you all along?
So the dream is forced to take new shape, and the path becomes something a little more obscure. For some people it’s religion or meditation. For others it’s immersion in a hobby or a sport. For me, my great joy (and still sometimes sorrow) remains music. Whatever the thing that brings stillness or awareness to your mind, the ultimate goal is complete acceptance of every waking moment.
I’ve since accepted that it was not my fate to become a rock star, or to be obscenely wealthy. Instead, my fortune is a series of small revelations in the department of personal evolution. Instead of the trappings of fame and fortune, I have managed to gain some wisdom. And if wisdom leads me to a greater peace and happiness, then absolutely nothing has been lost.