The thing with following your dreams. The thing we never document when we encourage people to strive for and pursue their excellence, is the pain that comes with it. When we document the journey, we want the world to see our triumphs and we post our pictures online with smiley faces, living a tremendously joyous existence. We proclaim, we hashtag, that we are “#livingthedream” and we tweet about the people we’ve met, the places we’ve gone, and the many wonderful things we may have done. Somehow we happen to miss out the heartache, tears and the loneliness that can come with it.
While all that we share is no lie, those who read, or look at these pictures always forget that this is only a part of the whole story. A truth nevertheless. I am reminded of a movie called ‘Just Married’ that starred Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. The lead man (played by Kutcher) was being advised by his father about marriage. He pointed to pictures in a photo album, and he spoke of those joyous moments. Here’s the quote from that scene:
“Some days your mother and me loved each other. Other days we had to work at it. You never see the hard days in a photo album… but those are the ones that get you from one happy snapshot to the next.”
I am caused to think on the quote above. A while ago I wrote a blog about making it a year in Berlin. I’ve had a number of months that were more than a little difficult. These are not documented in pictures, or with tweets, or even Facebook updates. In time to come, I will look back over many of these tweets and status updates and think on all I lived through between those pictures. When I look at those tweets or pictures, I will remember vividly the difficult times, without need of documented words or pictures. I will remember the tears that came during the absent updates. I will remember the fears and loneliness only too easily. So why, oh why do I need to document them physically? Their emotional toll is clear for me to see.
A close friend of mine messaged me a while ago, having read my blog post ‘Letter To A Friend‘ and I found myself touched by her message.
The message was simple:
“I just wanted to tell you that whatever happens, don’t lose hope….Even when/if you lose yourself…Even when/if nothing means anything anymore. I know you know this, but I still wanted to let you know.”
This is part of what helps me to continue moving on when things get difficult, as they tend to do.
In more recent past, I attended my sister’s wedding in the UK. I am happy to tell you I was beyond proud. I was asked a few days before I left Berlin, if I would cry at the wedding, I of course proclaimed that there was little chance of this happening. I am far from ashamed to tell you I cried as I watched her walking down the aisle. It has been many a year since I last shed a tear, so I didn’t anticipate it. But, seeing her walking down the aisle, with tears pouring down her face was too much for me. Later at the reception, I had cause to tear up once again when the time for the first dance came along. I recollect querying what they would be dancing to, my sister’s response was that it’s a surprise. I presumed twas a surprise for the audience, so I was happy to wait and see. They took to the dancefloor and the song began. I remember all too well, recognising the guitar intro, but uncertain as to the song itself, then the voice…and it was my voice! My song Weathervane, was the song they used for their first dance. I was beyond surprised! I looked to my other sister, in utter shock. I couldn’t believe it. Both were singing along. I hugged her and wept like I haven’t wept in forever, as she told me
‘Never doubt yourself. Ever’
The reason I share this? In time to come, as you go about pursuing your unknown end, you will go through what can only be called trying times. These are a part of our lot. I see them as almost a necessity. These help us to decide exactly how much we want whatever it is we are chasing. Whatever this unknown end may be, the trying times are an essential part of the journey. It is at this point that we ask ourselves if we really want this thing we seek. These trying times have the ability to break many. You have to ensure you are not one of those many. Reach back to something that will help to sustain you. For me, hearing my song at my sister’s wedding, for her first dance to boot, will stick in my mind for many a year. For me, this is a huge achievement. I intend to achieve more in my little life, but I’m uncertain that anything else I do will top that. Hold to the ‘little’ achievements. Let these encourage you as you move forward. I have come to learn that everything I want won’t come all at once. It may seem an obvious thing to many. But if you’re anything like me when it comes to dreams, you want it all at once. And you want it now. And with every little setback, we wish to curl up and die. But you always get back up, you will always keep going, because you simply have to seek the unknown end.
I often get asked about my writing process, and how I write a song. What is your process? I’m often asked. As each song is different, I always try to look at it in retrospect and write from there.
This time around, as I’m in essence still writing the song, I will try to give you a more play by play description, if I can.
A few weeks ago at the end of a band rehearsal, the guitarist I’m currently working, started playing the beginnings of what he tells me is an old Brazilian song. The first 4 – 8 bars were some simply chords, played in arpeggio with a flattened fourth or fifth, giving it a very modal sound. I latched onto that with a simple melody and lyrics that came to me on the spot:
This is a new song.
That I’m writing right now
It’s a new melody
And it’s not quite the blues.
I told Joao (guitarist) that I didn’t want to hear the rest of the song, and just to let me use that beginning as a springboard for the rest. Walking down the road that night, I started singing it, adding to it, trying to let the melody flow by itself:
At the next rehearsal, we started working it. We started by listening to the above audio and going from there. In trying to find the rest of the song, I kept the first few lines and made stuff up to work with the chord progression that was being created. I added words as the melody was coming to me. The words were just filler, so that I could nail down the melody. Though, the chorus worked as it was, so I knew that was a keeper. I went away, worked on lyrics some more, to fit the melody. And by the end of our last rehearsal, this is what we had:
From the above you can see what we kept from the little audio snippet and what we threw out. There is still a little way to go, work things in properly. Some words I still wish to change, and I will allow those to come to me as and when. Tis just a little glimpse into what is sometimes my writing process. Sometimes, I bring a completed song to the band to work through. While other times, like with this song (still undecided whether to stick with ‘On My Mind’ or the original title of ‘New Song’) it starts with the tiniest bit (4-8 bars) and the song comes from there.
I know, it’s another cop out from not actually recording a video blog. Still better than nothing! I hope you enjoy. 😉
One of many videos from my time at the Forte Village Resort in Italy last year. Hope you enjoy.
I still can’t get round to starting that video blog.