"do it now while you can"
For starters, let me just say that my definition of success, is finding happiness. If you get to wake up every day, do something you love, and you’re happy, you’ve already succeeded. It’s an unfortunate statistic I read recently, in 2019, America ranked as the 19th happiest country in the world. This is a decline from the previous years rankings, but let’s not get carried away on all that boring data...
When I started playing guitar in high school, I didn’t think much of it. It was a hobby and nothing more. I had always enjoyed poetry in school, so when I learned a few basic chords, I began my first attempts at songwriting. During this time, I don’t believe I had one person in my life that told me I should consider a career in music. With the exception of maybe my grandmother, bless her sweet soul! But for those who didn’t encourage me, it was rightfully so. I’m sure I sounded like a cat who had just been run over by a bicycle. I would sit in my bedroom at my parents house playing covers until I felt I had mustered up enough of the song to come perform a living room concert.
Fast forward some years later and the flame for music continued growing in my heart. I began talking of Nashville and what it would be like to live there. In your early twenties it’s easy to dream big. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a long road ahead of you. Plenty of time to figure out what it is you’d like to be doing on this big ball spinning around. If mistakes are made, it’s all in the aspect of growth and learning. So when I would mention the idea of moving to some of my same-age friends, many of them were fairly encouraging. Many of the older adults I would share my thoughts with had somewhat of the same reaction, but it came with more…let’s say...personal concern. By personal, I mean the concern came from their own life experiences. That’s what advice is. Personal experience. Sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s best to take it with a grain of salt.
I was talking with someone the other day when they had used a phrase that I heard so many times before, from the elders I would speak with about my plans to move to Nashville and pursue music.
“Do it now while you can.”
First of all, what the hell does that even mean? Am I going to croak when I hit 30? Maybe your fingers go stale and you can’t strum a guitar in your 40’s? Perhaps after having children and starting a family, you’re not supposed to do what you love and makes you happy anymore? This could mean something entirely different coming from every person. But it was said in a manor that came across as, you only have “X” amount of time to do this in your life. A small window! Seriously?
Before I made the move, I would read about other songwriters and artists I look up to. A lot. I still do. One common feeling that these folks would share, was the fact that they just absolutely could not see themselves doing anything else in life. They are fully saturated in the music and what they’re doing. If I’m being honest, I did not feel this way when I made the move to this town. I knew I wanted to play music. I knew I loved music. But in the back of my mind, I still had the “do it now while you can” outlook on it. I thought, hey, if this doesn’t work out, we’ll just move back home. No harm done. These writers would say, “if you’re a songwriter, then when someone asks you what you do, you tell them you’re a songwriter.” For some reason, I had the hardest time believing that. I felt I needed some type of social justification to be able to say that I am a Songwriter. Like a number 1 hit or something. That’s the farthest thing from the truth.
Moving to Nashville has been one of the best experiences in my life. I’ve met some of the most amazing people, been given opportunities I would’ve never had back home, and has only bettered my marriage. But most importantly, it has helped me realize that I can’t imagine doing anything other than music. I’m no longer in a race to try and figure out what exactly “do it now while you can” means. I am a Songwriter, and will be a Songwriter, until the day I die. That is my definition of “Do it now while you can.” I told myself that if I could be surrounded by music every day, then I can feel as if I’ve “Made It”. My days consist of just that. From the minute I wake up, to the second I lay down. I am surrounded by music.
Whether you’re wanting to be a journalist for Time Magazine, or perhaps a Head Chef at one of New York’s finest restaurants, don’t allow outside opinions to persuade you negatively. Half the time, those giving the advice have never even done what you’re trying to accomplish.
They call Nashville the “10 year town.” It either takes ten years for you to catch a break, or within some point in those ten years, an opportunity will greet you. I moved here when I was 25. That means I will be 35 when that 10 year mark hits. If all goes as planned, I will have children by then. I look forward to the inspiration they bring in to my life and my music.