Comrades

A couple of weeks ago I was invited out to a benefit concert that was being held at one of the local venues downtown. The proceeds of the concert went towards the victims of the Orlando shooting that took place not to long ago.

Live music, a good cause, what’s not to love? Admittedly, I was a little hesitant to jump on board.

You see, I hadn’t been to this place before, nor have a I seen this particular band before. In fact I haven’t been to most venues in my local area. “But Mark” I hear you say “You’re a musician, how have you not been to at least a few of the music venues?”

To be honest, live music is kinda intimidating to me.

Why? It’s was because it sort of felt like a risk to me. It meant rubber meeting the road as far as this whole music thing. Actually going out there, even some what regularly to shows, meet new people, connect with musicians was kinda scary. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t totally live under a rock. I’ve gone to a few concerts before. I just didn’t feel very confident as an artist yet. The idea of mingling with people who actually had an idea of what they were doing, well, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

My natural inclination was to crawl back under my rock where I knew it was safe. Where others couldn’t judge me. It’s easier that way. Which is something I really considered.

It was then I had to have hard talk with myself.

‘Ok, so concert coming up. What’s the plan?’

Umm… Ice cream and Netflix?

‘…What?’

You know. The easy way? The not dangerous way? Isn’t this the obvious solution?

‘Ok, here’s the thing. You like music right?’

Yes

‘You do still want to do it as a career?’

Fuck yea!

‘Do you see, you know, maybe a problem with wanted to do these things, and…you know… not going to  them ever?’

…But…It’s scary and different.

‘Most things worth doing are.’

I broke down and gave into the little voice in my head and put the ice cream back in the fridge to be binged upon another day.

I ended up arriving a bit earlier then I had planed on to the concert. So early, in fact, I was the first one there, but it allowed me a good look at the place. It was a part of old downtown, so red brick and long panes of glass greeted me on the front. I followed a narrow corridor to the music hall proper which was thankfully much larger. Same redbrick as the front but parts the walls adjacent to the stage were lined with black concrete and a black floor. Giving it a very earthly tone.

Opposite to the stage was the bar where I claimed a stool and ordered a draft. I looked around and spotted a small group of people at the other end of the bar. They were talking, laughing and being generally merry .

I moved closer and introduced myself. They practically greeted me with open arms. Talking to them I found that they were one of the bands that were going to be preforming tonight. They told me how excited they were to be there, that they were actually originally from Philadelphia and were touring. Heard this was going on and what the cause was for and they were more than happy to help out.

As time rolled by more people showed up, including the other performers. One of them came up to the bar to get some water from the bartender. While he was there I struck up a conversation with him. Finding out that we actually already knew each other. That I had worked with him before.I had actually run the soundboard at one of his prior events.

A few more people walked up and the same sort of thing happened. Talked, found some sort of connection and just instantly clicked. I eventually had a whole circle of people around me. All of us swapping stories and jokes, just like we were old friends despite just meeting.

Even when the show finally started we stuck together jamming out and drinking beer. It wasn’t quite like anything I had experienced before. For the first time in a while I didn’t feel like the odd one out. I did’t feel the compulsion to apologize for being who I was or looking the way I did. I looked and acted perfectly normal amongst this crowd.

In a way I felt at home. Like I was lost and had finally found my tribe. There was no judgement here. No conflict of interest. It was a safe place. Just a group of people who wanted to just listen to some music.

***

So much of the time I feel like I am fighting this up hill battle against the world. Having to shake off judgments and justify why I do what I do. It’s easy to feel alone. Even though the very opposite is true. There are many of us out there. Probably all feeling the same way. That is why moments like that are so precious. To find your clan and build each other up. Because we have enough going against us as artists. Like soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder. In victory or in defeat, we need to get the others backs if we are going to survive this crazy world.

(image credit: wikipedia)

Welcome to my Garden

Hey internet,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while. It’s been a… busy year thus far. Loooots of drama has ensued that past six months, and it has been incredibly difficult to bring myself to write again. For a while there I wasn’t sure if it was even worth it to me do it again.

I mean, it’s not a particularly big site and its not like I have the most followers in the world. I could totally get away with just dropping off the face of the earth and none’s the wiser. Then I got to thinking, Why did I start doing this in the first place?

To make a statement?

To stick it to the man in my own little corner of the internet?

I figured out that it’s kinda a mixed bag for me. However, there was one thing I did end up remembering. The reason I started doing this in the first place. Just like every single person who has walked on this earth, I have a dream. That dream is to be a rockstar.

When I first realized my dream, I was ecstatic. I was gifted with new sense of purpose that took the form of this tiny, fragile, seed. This seed held within it my dreams, my hope and passion. I wasn’t sure what to do with this new little life that I held so delicately within my palm. So I look around, hoping to gain some guidance from others by observing what they had done with their seeds.

Everywhere I looked it seemed like a majority of people had taken their seeds and shoved them deep into their pockets or locked them far away in a safe somewhere. Others I had even seen take a hammer and crush their seed till nothing was even left of the poor thing. Sometimes I even saw people robbed of their seed by others who had lost their own at one point or another.

Then I was approached and was told that I should do the same before something bad happens to me. That the seed was dangerous. I followed as I was told and tucked it away in a corner somewhere. Pilled papers and junk on top of the little seed. In hopes of never seeing it again.

Until I saw someone do something different.

One day someone new walked up to me. They greeted me with a big smile and grabbed me by the arm. Pulling me close, they whispering excitedly into my ear “I need to show you something!” and lead me to a garden. A garden that was filled with plants and flowers I had never seen before! All filled with colors as far as the that stretched as far as the mind could imagine. I was overwhelmed with the warmth of this place. “You think that’s cool?” She continued to lead me till we reached the center of the garden where we were greeted by a colossal tree.

It was the biggest tree I had ever seen. It’s massive trunk was followed up by strong, think branches. Branches that held the most unique and captivating creatures I had ever seen. Some with beaks, some with tails, some with scales. All of them unique. At the end of the branches were but only the most vividly colored leaves. Not just green, but purple, yellow, pink, orange. All flowing seamlessly together.

“Is this yours? How did you do this?” I uttered in amazement

She simply smiled and responded “I planted the seed”

I ran home pealed back layers upon layers of debris from a corner of my room and found a tiny, dusty, seed. I plucked it from it’s tomb and gazed upon it. Brushing the dust off it I found it had become weathered and dirty, but I could still see the distinct spark it had from when I first discovered it.

She came up behind me and told me “Careful. It’s more then just planting a seed. You have to commit to it. You have to water it. Protect it from hungry birds. Sometimes even from other people.”

I looked to her, seed in hand “Will it be hard?”

She nodded “Yes, and it requires patience. Sometimes it feels like you may go through all the effort of caring for it with not a thing to show. However, little do you know that, inside, something powerful grows. And when you see that first little glimmer of green sticking out of the ground, it will all feel so worth it.”

I studded the little miracle of life and observed it’s little crevices. In each one of them I saw beauty and joy. Color and change. Most of all, I saw hope.

I dug a little hole in the dirt and placed the precious cargo into it’s newly created bed.

***

I do this because I have a dream and I know you do too. And it feels so easy to fall into the mind set of living in shame of dreams and passions. To keep to the grindstone and forget the rest. The thing is, where would we be as a culture if no one ever pursued their crazy dreams? What if we all just did what we were told and kept our nose clean? Probably all living in a cave somewhere afraid of the sunlight. Living in fear.

Personally, I have had enough of living in fear.

My name is Mark, and I am no different from you reader. I am just some guy sitting at a computer writing. I am not special. I am not particularly gifted. I am in no way better than you or anyone.

The only thing I have done is that I have decided to plant my seed and am working hard to have a garden some day. I say all this because I don’t want to hide anymore, and I want to show you it’s possible. The garden may not end up the exact way you would like. It may have some hills. It may grow next to a lake that is home to a group of hungry geese that you have to fend off regularly. But it’s your garden. Yours to create and shape. It all starts with a decision. Are you going to stow away your seed and ignore it’s existence, or see what magic you can make happen?

NOTW: Something is Better Than Nothing

“Something is better than nothing” What a cop out. Because that phrase implies you are settling for something less that the ideal, less than best. Which seems stupid to me, for you see;

I am a junkie for perfection.

I don’t necessarily always seek perfection in circumstance or in the people around me, but in exclusively myself. I am always trying to find ways to stand out from the crowd and I found that, being a perfect person, would do that. If I am ever preforming less than optimally, then, in my mind, I’m a failure. Even if the product of my labor is average or meets expectations, it’s still not good enough, because I know it can be better.

This is mind set rings especially true in my work (being my music or this blog). From the beginning I have been near obsessed with trying to make THE best content. Which is a good goal, but sometimes a lofty expectation to put on ones self. Especially when first starting out.

You know the funny thing about being a perfectionist? Is that you never win. Simply because there is no such thing as perfect in this world. There is always something more that can be done, something to overcome, something to learn. We may progress forward, but we never really ‘arrive’.

The perfectionist syndrome really seems to start when we start a new project, one that we may feel particularly passionate about.

For example, when I started this blog. I had never blogged or done anything quite like it before. I had known about free blogging site, but I wanted to be taken seriously! Not be some other schmuck on the internet! So I did hours of research on domains, RRS, web hosting, and general blogging. Then, equipped with my new knowledge, I found a decent web host, put in my information, then got hit with the price tag. It was a few hundred dollars more then I expected.

I was a little devastated. I felt like a failure before I had even started. Then it occurred to me, that it wasn’t that I was a failure, I was just expecting way to much of myself to start with. You don’t expect when a baby is first born to be able to talk, or a person to preform heart surgery after reading one medical book. It is all about taking the first step, then continuing to walk, then run, then fly, but first you need to crawl.

That is why it is so important to just put something out there, anything, that will progress you forward. Because If you just fixate on making something perfect every time, you are never going to pass the planning stage. Many times, that means settling for less than perfect.

These days, I am just a another schmuck on the internet. However I am a schmuck that works hard to progress everyday, and sometimes that involves being less than perfect.

How about you? What is something that has inspired you this week or that you have been wrestling with? Maybe something you are thankful for? If you feel like sharing, hit me up on Twitter (@PunkMusical) and we’ll talk about it!

(Photo Credit: Flickr.com)

NOTW: Creatives

Creative people are insane.

Like, legitimately.

I am actually fairly certain, that all of us creative types either belong, or have once belonged, to some sort of loony farm. We all just, somehow, managed to escape our, totally justified, confinement from society. Maybe we escaped using a smuggled plastic spoon, that we shaped into Abraham Lincoln’s head, and pick the lock to our cell with it. Not to escape, but so that we could go find a different room that had better acoustics for our ukulele practice. Then, one of the guards discovered us, and was so impressed by our mad skills to shred that tiny guitar, released us so we could unleash our madness upon the world.

What a mistake he made.

This week I have discovered how grateful I am for my fellow, crazy ass, right brained people out there. I am talking about the people who can never just see something and accept the way it is. Rather, they take it all apart, throw it in a cup, shake it, then throw it at the wall to see what sticks.

The sort of people when looking at a sky scraper, think how cool it would look upside down, like a stalactite in a cave.

The sort of people that hear a death metal song, then transpose it to work on a xylophone.

I am talking about the sort of of people who decide to throw on a wedding dress, cover themselves in white makeup, then find a place to stand in the park. Only so that they can observe how people react.

If you are one of these people, know that you are doing this world a service. You are adding a bit of kayos, in what would otherwise, be a very boring existence. If you are not one of these types and more align yourself with our left brained counterparts, know that you are doing this world a service. You add much need balance to this world, and a bit of ‘actually getting shit done’. Because I assure you, without you, we would just have a bunch of very colorfully dressed people standing around calculator, all asking “What do?”.

So, if your left brained, right brained, or even have a whole brain, what are you thankful for this week? How about something that you have recently come across that inspires you? If your feeling social, feel free to leave a comment or hit me up on twitter (@PunkMusical). We’ll talk about this potato chip I found that looks a lot like Sigmund Freud.

(photo credit: pexels.com)