On Giving Birth and Pursuing Dreams
Twenty-five years ago this month, I gave birth. To an album of original songs.
Back in those days of yore the Internet, at least in terms of wide usage, was in its infancy, and the compact disc (CD) was the go-to format for both purchasing (yes, purchasing!) and listening to recorded music.
I finished the album in September of 1996, shortly after turning 24 years old, and held the finished product — a shrink-wrapped, professionally packaged CD direct from the manufacturer — in my hands for the first time that December.
Though the moment of opening the box and pulling out a record store-ready disc was strangely anti-climactic, the achievement it represented was nothing short of the realization of a lifelong dream I had spent years actively working toward.
Having been rejected or ignored by 75 record companies, I released the album on my own small label, Hominid Records, which had a business license, PO box, toll-free number, checking account, and staff of one (yours truly). The label operated out of my bedroom in the single-floor house I was sharing with a drummer roommate in Nashville.
Though the disc did receive some airplay on radio stations across the U.S., the hoped-for-with-all-my-being music career that I believed the CD would help me launch never came to be, despite Herculean efforts on my part.
That said, I was — and still am — damn proud of it. I made the best album I was capable of, and on quite a limited budget. I took painful personal experiences and feelings, mixed in some hopes, philosophies, and a heap of musical influences and inspirations, and fashioned them into my own words and music.
I collaborated with a seriously talented friend to realize my vision for each song in his recording studio. I gathered amazing musicians, most of whom I met at writer’s nights or day jobs all over Nashville, to play on the album. Without being beholden to any record company executives or financiers, I claimed total creative freedom over the project. I paid for it myself. I put my heart and soul and countless hours into it, on the studio clock and off. I made a ton of decisions and stretched myself in myriad ways. I learned by doing.
I then did everything I could to get it out into the world, to see what would happen…
Pursuing your dreams is risky business. No matter your dedication, drive, hard work, talent, and/or anything else, there are no guarantees of how things will turn out. Life owes none of us anything.
When you invest yourself wholeheartedly, when you allow yourself to care deeply and passionately about something or someone, you risk incredible heartache. It comes with the territory.
Music not panning out as a career for me, despite giving it my all until I had nothing left in the tank, broke my heart. The wound cut deep. My confidence took a major hit, I suffered a crisis of identity, and experienced what some refer to as a dark night of the soul.
But you know what?
I regret none of it.
We are here for a short time. Why waste the precious gift that is your life not pursuing your biggest dreams and most heartfelt desires?
Do you think you will spare yourself heartache by not doing so? Maybe you will.
Everything in life, after all, is trade-offs. We must each decide for ourselves what trade-offs are worth it to us to make, what we are willing and not willing to risk or attempt.
These are personal decisions, and ones only you can make for yourself. Whatever you decide, you — after all — are the one who must live with the consequences.
My personal opinion is that if there is a “goal” to aspire to for this bizarre situation we find ourselves in called a human life, it might be to minimize regret.
Yes, pursuing your dreams is risky business, and could very well lead to heartache. But what about the heartache of being on your deathbed and realizing you never even tried? From that vantage point, not pursuing your dreams is perhaps the riskiest business of all.
So why not be courageous then? There is no such thing as guaranteed safety or permanent security. These may be compelling illusions, but they are illusions nonetheless.
Incidentally, the heartbreak we experience in life, while not something most of us would ever seek out, has the capacity to transform us in profoundly positive ways. We can become stronger, wiser, and more resilient people for it. We can shed old ideas of ourselves that may have been misguided, unhelpful, or incomplete. We can feel a closer connection to other souls everywhere, dead or alive, because most, if not all, of us at some point experience some form of heartbreak.
Giving birth — to a literal child, a piece of art, or a new version of yourself — is an act of courage. No matter how devoted a parent you may be, you have no idea how the child you raise will ultimately turn out or fare in the world. Your control over such things is limited. That can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.
Yet, you love your child with all your heart anyway and do the best job you can on her behalf, and this alone will likely shape you into a more loving, capable, mature, compassionate, and overall better human. Your child, whatever becomes of her, may become your greatest teacher. And she just might grow up to be a blessing to others, as well.
Originally published at http://inspiredlivingblog.wordpress.com on December 9, 2021.