The truth is nobody owes you anything.
Nobody has to eat your food. Nobody has to wear your clothes. Nobody has to read your books. And nobody has to listen to your music. We are all doing what we are doing because we want to. It’s kinda important for us to really realize that, especially if we want to be eaten/read/listened/appreciated.
I sometimes read artists gripe about their lives in social media. I’m okay with casual venting in passing. I think we all do that and it’s nice to know that we are not alone in suffering some dumb human stuff; it’s comforting to know that the best of us struggle and that we have so much in common. It is, after all, not easy being artists for living.
What I find puzzling is when the posts are bitter and they are framed in ways that somehow everything bad/hard/out of control is everyone else’s fault: somehow the hardships are bestowed upon them without their consent and they are unjust. I’m like, really? I haven’t met any musicians whose arms were twisted to play jazz. It’s your choice. Nobody asked you to and nobody forced you to. You wanted to do it. So then you got to own the fact that you wanted it. Hardship and all. And you have to embrace it all. You can’t freely choose your own profession (being an artist at that!) and then complain when things do not go the way you want them to go. That is just counter productive.
Think about it. You don’t want to hear any music that comes out of blame. You don’t want to read books that festered in bitterness. You do not want to watch movies that are dipped in envy and jealousy. You certainly do not want to eat foods that come out of angry kitchen; you don’t know what they are doing to your dishes in there. Lol.
Most of us are inspired and uplifted and moved and touched and provoked by things that are created in courageous and vulnerable place. We want to hear/see/feel artists who are totally accountable for their greatness, mistakes, sadness, ugliness, weakness, and everything else. It’s hard for us to find compassions in the energy of bitterness/anger/envy/blame.
If things are not going your way, then you have to look to yourself and figure out why things are way they are. You have to realize that nobody owes you anything and nobody else is to blame. It really sucks but you got to buck up and own the choices you made. There were times things were really really really really hard running The Jazz Gallery. I did vent and complain at times about how things were and how people were and how this industry was. But I also knew that I wanted to do this and I chose to be here. I was lucky that I had people along the way, who kept me honest and made me deal with myself. And yes, I hated it. Absolutely infuriating to face my own smallness. But I wanted things to get better. I wanted The Jazz Gallery to thrive. So I owned the fact that it was my choice and I have all the power in the world to create as I wanted. It was all up to me, which is exhilarating and totally frightening. When things went great, it was amazing to claim my role in them but when things flopped, I felt totally humiliated. I thought I was the biggest loser; I wanted to dig a hole and hide until I forget about it, which is never. Lol.
It is scary to realize that nobody owes you anything and it is all up to you. But that’s where, I think, we all have to start if we want to create something compelling. The journey to find a way to stand on your own can and will give you depth and width to your artistry. And because that is what this life is about, your honest struggle will resonate with others. I know it’s hard but it’s also yours and yours only. Own it and nurture it and grow it into something beautiful and joyous.