From “ONE of THE GUYS”
When people ask me what I do, I say, “It’s simple. Imagine a jar filled with rocks. The jar is everyday life, the rocks are my kids and my wife.”
“But what about you?” they say.
“I am the sand that gets poured in to fill all the cracks,” I say.
And you know what, that’s exactly what it’s like! I am a musician, writer, and teacher. Basically an artist as one would define it. This pursuit allows me a lot of flexibility in my schedule, so I’m able to make our busy lives a little less crazed, and metaphorically “fill the jar.”
To be an artist and do it “right” you have to immerse yourself in your chosen field, whether it’s composition, painting, writing, pottery, performance or whatever. You have to live and breathe your art. And you have to be open enough to say yes to every possible opportunity. If you don’t allow yourself the freedom to go on tour, or work whenever the muse hits, or move to a new city because you found a better environment to do your work in, you have to figure out a way to enjoy the small victories.
I’ve chosen to live a more “normal” life; one with a family that I actually spend time with on a regular basis. So I am not doing it “right.” In fact, being a father and husband is diametrically opposed to being a true artist, mainly because of the time and commitment constraints. So, I’m forced to become as malleable as a young child’s mind and say yes to every little job that comes my way. Like this to a prospective student:
“Sure I can teach you. What time? 2am? No problem, I’ll be there after my gig.” When I say yes to something like that, I feel like a cheap whore, willing to turn any trick just to make a buck.
I would argue that anyone who’s living through, or has lived through, the trials, victories and defeats of raising children has much to bring to his or her art. It’s just that there is no time to actually bring it. Sure, some people can do it, but it’s not easy, and it feels contrived somehow to try and fit it in. That doesn’t sound very romantic and certainly is not what a “real” artist would do. A “real” artist sleeps until whenever. Works all day. Meets up with the rest of the local artists at the cafe in the late afternoon. And then after drinks and discussions, resumes working until the wee hours of the morning.
Of course I know that’s total BS and just the way I envision it to be. The world really isn’t like that anymore. The reality is, living costs money, and whether you have kids or not, the bills need to be paid and food has to be bought. So maybe, doing it “right” is all a matter of perception. Hmm…….
So fine, I can live with small victories. A cool gig here and there. A fun recording session; that actually pays! Some great comments here on The Guy’s Perspective, or releasing a CD or book. Because I don’t write this out of bitterness. I made my choices and I’m generally happy with them. I love my family and wouldn’t trade them to be famous.
But damn, it does seem like every time I have something interesting scheduled, something comes up with my kids, my family or just life in general. I mean it’s uncanny, like the fates are conspiring against me.
I know many of you reading this are also struggling with balancing your artistic endeavors with your domestic responsibilities. How do you make it all work? How do you balance things? Do you feel like a cheap whore too?
Well gotta run. Master calls. I got a sick kid who’s ringing the bell for me. Ahh, the life of an artist. Isn’t it grand?