A Life Update
I used to practice 12 hours a day.
Ever hear the theory that it takes 10,000 of practice to become an expert? I have more like 60 or 70,000.
That’s INSANE. Nobody needs to put that much time in before taking their abilities public. But that’s what I did. Every day, morning-noon-night. Practice. For years. At the time, it was killing me and I didn’t understand why I was doing it. Now I do:
I thought I was afraid of what other musicians might think of me, so I had to be better than them. Had to be a better guitarist, had to be a better drummer, had to have a better ear. And the more seriously I took practice, the harder I would be on myself. My internal voice to started out by saying “I could be better” and “I’m not a good enough player yet”, and became “I’m not good enough”. See the difference? And that became a problem.
I was no fun anymore. I used to be a blast but now it felt like I hadn’t laughed in forever. I was the kid who thought burps were the funniest thing of all time, but I couldn’t remember the last time I even smiled. I rarely hung out with anybody, and the only way I could be coaxed out was if there was booze involved. That way I could get blasted and feel like I was being sociable, without having to really talk to anybody. Because I wasn’t good enough, you see.
Healthy, I know.
And girls? There hadn’t been anybody in my life for a looooooong time. It’s not like I wasn’t meeting people, but the voice inside my head would tell me “I’m not good enough for her yet. Wait until I’m the greatest of all time, then ask her out.” I’ve watched one after another go off with someone else. That never gets easier, believe me.
So what was really going on? I was letting fear consume my life. Not of other musicians (they don’t care), not of girls, but of…myself maybe? Taking a chance maybe? Either way, I was miserable. Absolutely alone, totally detached from friends and family, out of shape, probably a functional alcoholic, borderline broke, and completely miserable.
So I knew things had to change. I thought “well, what in particular?” Motherfucker, EVERYTHING. I had to change absolutely everything about my life.
I started with the drinking. As much as I loved it (and I mean loved it), I knew it had to go. It hadn’t been fun in a long time. Years maybe. I wasn’t using it to have a laugh with my dumb little buddies anymore, but like a blanket I could hide under in social situations. Frig man, I don’t remember 2010 (but I sure as hell remember 2011. Ha ha ha I’ll go into detail about that some other time).
This raised an unexpected issue. It had been forEVER since I interacted with people in a non-music and non-partying setting. I didn’t know what to say or do. What do people talk about at dinner parties? The hell if I knew. What if I have nothing to contribute to the conversation? Would anybody even care what I had to say? Maybe I should just get wasted and moon the neighbours instead. The hardest part of all was telling myself to shut up with that shit, suck it up and dive into LIFE.
This sounds lame, but it’s almost like I had to get to know myself as an adult. And you know what? I’m actually pretty cool. I’m good at being around people. I’m kind of funny and my friends are hilarious and I’d long forgotten how much I like laughing at stupid shit. Like burps.
So I took a lot of time to work on myself (which is still a work in progress, believe me). I ditched the junk food, hit the gym, reconnected with friends and family I’d lost track of. And none of it was easy. But shit…I had to do it.
But back to the music. I’ve known since I was 4 that’s who I am and what I do. Part of me knew that I’m awesome, but the only way i’d ever make a career happen is if I just put it all out there on the line, warts and all. I had to accept that there is no perfect take, perfect vocal line, perfect song. Only good, great, excellent. The pursuit of perfection nearly killed me, and got me nowhere in the process.