I just completed composing music for a short comedy sketch video titled “The Edge of the World.” It has been a long time dream of mine to compose, and record music for television, and movies. I certainly hope that this film is just the beginning for me. The video has been chosen to run at the Los Angeles Comedy Festival on November 19th at 8 p.m.. I was going to tell you about the recording process – it was a very unique, and rewarding experience for me. But, when I sat down at my Starbucks office, and began to type, my fingers, my soul, and my mind, had a completely different twist on the title of this blog. Don't worry, I am going to take a break from these heavier blogs, and write some funny, and interesting articles about my gigs, and recording sessions.
Anyway, the first thing that came to my mind was a vision of me standing at the edge of the world looking for an opportunity to compose, and to record music for this video. I feel like I have walked, (figuratively of course), to the edge of the world many times – looking for this dream. My toes would dangle over the side, with the bulk of my energy focused on the back of my heels, so as not to fall forward. I would peer over the edge, with my glasses balancing on the end of my nose. After all, I was just peeking. The goal was always to look, observe, and not to fall.
Chasing a dream can leave you vulnerable, scared, unsure, exhilarated, hopeful, persistent, passionate, and purposeful. But, it has left me anxious about unknown events, people, travel, and commitments etc. The old saying, “Be careful what you wish for” keeps popping into my mind. I think that I have used that phrase, on occasion, to give me an out, or at least a reason why I should put my dream off for another day. I have been hesitant for a lot of years now, due to the fact that my wife and I, have been busy raising our kids. I know that we made the right choices for those circumstances, but our kids are grown, and it is time for me to pursue my dream.
And so, I must return to the edge. I know, deep in my heart, that in order for me to really succeed, I need not merely peer over the edge, or sneak up on the edge. I need to take both feet, and gloriously jump off the edge!! I have been afraid to completely commit myself to my dream for many years. I have been hoping that someone would call me to the edge, take my hand, and guide me safely to my destination. That’s not exactly how it works. A lot of people are put in your path to help you. But, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. In fact, you need to spend a lot of time outside of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone might entail a day where you sit on the couch with the fire going, you sip on hot chocolate, and watch a movie. That’s a great way to take a break, but not to chase a dream. Now is the time for me to wear a smile from ear to ear, and go for it. I had some real disappointments in my life as a child, and I think that has kept me guarded, suspicious, and tentative. But, that was then, and now is now – time to jump!
And so, I have embarked on my journey to return to the edge. Getting back to the edge of the world will take some time, it doesn't exit in my comfort zone, that's for sure! Here is an example of a small step that I took just last week. I was hired to play guitar in the pit orchestra for a show called Xanadu. I don't know anyone in the band. Oh, wait a minute, I was on a gig with the drummer a few years ago, but I don't know much about him. Anyway, I wasn't sure how long it would take to get to the rehearsal, so I headed out with plenty of time to spare. Geez, I ended up arriving almost an hour early. So, I stopped by the beach, and watched the waves crash against the sand, and rocks, I was parked just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. When I got to the rehearsal the director/keyboardist Robert told me that he and Paul, one of the other keyboardists, had met an hour before our first rehearsal for coffee. They were down by the beach, and it sounded like fun. Robert wished that I had called him when I was hanging out at the beach, he would have invited me to coffee. My comfort zone tells me to hang by myself for an hour, it's easier. But, jumping off the edge of the world requires me to get involved, live life, call Robert, and have some coffee already!!
In the past, it was all about work for me. I would run from teaching, or performing, back to my house, to spend time with my family. I was always racing from place to place. I was worried about my skills, and my abilities to produce great music etc. I would spend a lot of time practicing, so as not to repeat mistakes. I was running scared sometimes, wanting everything to be perfect. I think that I probably felt vulnerable at times. I wasn't comfortable making mistakes, or just being me.
But now is now, and I need to change, and begin connecting with more people. It’s less about my ability to perform, and more about enjoying the day, being heartfelt, and compassionate. I think I am beginning to get the hang of this. I have completed all of my education, I have all the musical chops that I need, incredible support from my friends in the music industry, great guitars, foot pedals, and amplifiers. I have a loving family, confidence, and a lot of experience. I think that I can safely say, and announce, that I have officially Paid My Dues!
So what’s left? Being more tuned into the people around me, and realizing that it’s not about me, it’s about community, and relationships. Acting on my new thoughts, I asked Robert to please invite me to their next coffee. It was just a few days later, just before the very next rehearsal, that I received a text from Robert. He invited me to join him, and Paul down by the beach, at the “Malibu Market.” It was so relaxing, and fun. I learned a lot about Paul, and Robert. We talked about everything from our families, to Seattle Coffee, to road biking, and surfing. We really connected. The rehearsal was a blast, and I have never been so relaxed, and focused. It wasn’t about me. I was focused on the people around me - it was about them.
When the rehearsal was over, I had some college students ask if they could help me with my gear when it was time to go to my car. In the past I would have said that I didn’t need any help. I would have been focused on getting home to the family, or I might have been re-playing, in my mind, a mistake that I had made. I might have been wondering if the gig was worth the hassles. I definitely would have thrown my gear in my car, and gassed it home asap. Not this time! I decided to connect, be passionate, get to know the college students by asking what year of study they were in, and where their hometowns were. It was a wonderful evening. I never worried about myself. In the past I would have wondered if I was wearing the right clothes, or was my playing good, or did I make too many mistakes? I know, I know, it's exhausting, isn't it!
But, all of that went out the window during that rehearsal. I was focused on connecting with the musicians, and actors on a heartfelt level. I was celebrating life on a regular weekday, no special occasion, just a positive, grateful, and joyful evening just because I said so. The music took care of itself. I was playing from my heart, and thinking about how great the cast, and crew worked together. I focused on helping them, and making sure that my playing was the best that it could be for them, not me. I didn't listen to myself play, I listened to them sing. That's what I did when I recorded music for "The Edge of the World" video. I was going to compose music, but that wasn't working. So, I closed my eyes, listened to the inflections, tones and rhythms of the actors voices, and interpreted their emotions, and stories through improvisation. I didn't listen to my guitar, I listened to their voices.
So, there is a time, for all of us to go the edge. See if you can locate your edge. Remember, it's way beyond your comfort zone. Go ahead, take a peek. But, don’t jump until it's your time. My kids are raised, and I have no regrets about merely peeking over the edge while my wife and I were raising them. That was appropriate. But, now it is time to walk gloriously to that edge, and jump with my arms flailing, and my feet kicking with joy, and excitement. I feel like I have nothing to loose, and everything to gain. Have you been to the edge lately? Until next time - Surf it Mellow Brothers and Sisters - the MD