Cold, unsweetened black coffee sloshes around once more in my stomach. It’s foul, but it’s the only thing stopping me from melting into a brain-dead, zombified mess. Over the course of a week, I switch roles between music tutor, engineering undergraduate, office worker, member of a rock band, and mediocre student of combat sports.
Throw in a wedding to plan and a couple of business ideas in their infancy, and you don’t have a whole lot of time to sleep.
“You can’t do this forever, you know,” my fiancée warns sagely.
Of course she’s right. And much to her alarm, this fact only causes me to push harder. There will come a time when my body won’t tolerate three 1.5-hour training sessions in as many days. There will come a time when midnight means bedtime, not doing my monthly invoices. And one day, popping off to play a festival in Poland over the weekend and coming back to teach on Monday will just seem like too much trouble.
These are not the years for an extended, carefree adolescence. If you have no children, no mortgage and no health problems, consider yourself issued with a mandate to take some calculated risks. Make no mistake, I’m not here to tell you to dream big or reach for the stars. I’ll leave that sort of thing to the Instagurus. BUT – if you have a sensible, well-considered aspiration, then now is unquestionably the time to go all out in your quest to make it happen.
Your body and mind can take more punishment now than at any other time of life. Use and abuse that fact to its fullest potential, or spend your latter years wishing you had.
“It’s not ready yet.” I am fortunate enough to call many talented musicians a friend. And as we keep each other updated on projects, plans, aspirations – that one phrase pops up again and again.
Whether it’s refining the performance of a live set, finding the right word to fit into some lyrics, or mixing an album, we chip away at our creations hoping that they come out just right. Because if we succeed, then this next project – this will be the one that blows people’s minds. The one that gets the recognition it deserves. Click “upload”, sit back and wait for the adulation to come pouring in.
Of course, it never happens like that.
For the majority of musicians out there, the attention their work receives is severely disproportional to the amount of time spent crafting it. And why shouldn’t it be? Everybody is just another one of millions of voices on the internet.
I can hardly claim to have definitive answers here. But I do have questions.
Questions that prompt me to examine what I’m doing, to push myself in uncomfortable directions that hopefully bear more fruit than drifting on autopilot.
In your endeavours, seek discomfort. Pursue the unfamiliar.
Above all, act with the awareness that success by its very definition belongs to a minority of people. What are you doing to be part of that group?
Steph K is a musician. He also eats things. A lot of things.