Without question, my brain has certainly been quite active this week, leading to another blog entry. Musings for a Friday morning, and from another week gone by…. Some of this is surely in jest, and in full transparency, I am not in any way discounting the fine work of postal employees!
While walking our beloved dog Addie the other morning (I believe it was on Wednesday), I kept hearing the voice of my long deceased mother, telling my “unsure, lacking direction, but really wanting to enroll in college for music”, 19 year old self - “you know, the post office is hiring.” And that very thought got me wondering how different my life might have been had I heeded her advice.
If I had applied for and accepted employment with the U.S. Postal Service, I most likely would not have the same circle of friends and acquaintances I have today, that have accumulated over time. I most likely would have not met the person that became my first wife and perhaps I would not have lived in the places we lived. Certainly not the house we eventually purchased. Would my interest in music – not only as a player – but as a listener - have faded into something more casual? Because my circle of friends and acquaintances would have certainly been different, would I have the spiritual, philosophical, social, and political beliefs I have grown and evolved into having? Maybe I would have met someone completely different, and still be married to that person, perhaps with grown children, and maybe even a few grandchildren. The mortgage on our house might already be paid for, we’d most likely have a few “toys” such as a boat, and of course, our very large, American made, GM vehicles would be parked side by side in the driveway. We may have possibly gone the route of installing a pool. You know, for the grandkids…. ;)
For all intents and purposes, if I had started that job at 19, I may already be retired by now, having put in my “time”. All the things my Mom told me that came with employment at the post office - job security, good pay, a pension – would have come to fruition. Perhaps there would have been several vacations to Florida and Vegas over those years, maybe a Carnival cruise or two along the way. And in my early retirement, perhaps I’d rekindle my relationship with music, and head down to the GC (where I currently work) to purchase a nice bass and amp so that I could jam with my buddies in my finished basement on weekends. It’s all good – we’ll keep the volume down, and Larry is bringing a 12 of Bud Light! Maybe I’d be one of “those customers” that make us collectively groan when we see them coming into the store, and that we all bitch about when they finally leave - ie; telling stories about my bands from the “good old days”, the kind that returns everything they buy, or just browses and never buys anything except for maybe a set of strings or some picks.
The big question in all of this is – “would I be happy?” But how does one answer that honestly without actually living the aforementioned life? I guess there is no really good answer to that question, but my best response would be that I would have done as my father; I would have shown up for work every day, and support the family because it’s the right thing to do. It’s called having integrity. And you know what? There isn’t a damn thing wrong with that. Because, as my mother also used to tell me when I was younger and often expressed my desire to be a musician – “yeah, well the world needs ditch diggers too”. And you know what? She was right. I think what she was trying to say, is that millions of folks get up every single day to head off to jobs they don’t like – and often in careers they have chosen – to support families, provide food and shelter, to pay bills, and to get through this thing called life.
Knowing my personality, my ambition, and my drive - somehow, I believe that had I started working at the post office – it would not have been long in tenure. Because somewhere, at some point in my life I realized I needed to at least try. I just didn’t want to wake up one day when I’m in my 70’s with the knowledge that I left something on the table that was unfulfilled.
The fact is - being a musician is a truly unconventional lifestyle and career, and can often be uncertain and unstable in terms of finances. I never had an issue with working the myriad jobs I have had along the way, to share in the responsibilities of utilities, food and shelter when music didn’t provide a primary source of income, or to supplement that income. While I have never had the opportunity to become a professional musician at an arena level, I have had opportunities and experiences that I would have never dreamed possible when I was…. oh, 19 years old. Because I (perhaps rather stubbornly) “stuck to my guns”, I’ve been to places, seen sights, and have met people I probably would have never encountered in a more traditional line of work, and in turn, my eyes and mind are more open to how we are all connected somehow. I have been the fortunate recipient of what is a relatively normal, happy and balanced life.
So, I leave you with this; If you can follow you bliss – take the leap, and do so without fear. If at some point you feel that you need to get off the beam to work and pay bills along the way – do it. There’s no shame in holding down a job and keeping yourself out of debt. You may actually discover that you possess skills you never imagined you had! But never let go of the line that keeps you attached to the dream.