Being in AA taught me a principle. If I believe I can do something and I’m stoic about achieving; I can attain. Removing drugs and alcohol from my life was a goal only I could reach. Each day, I had to center my thoughts on the singular purpose of not using. I developed a mentality of honesty and realized that when I shared my desire to be sober around others, it gave my past experiences value. Expressing my transparent thoughts and emotions created a daily drive towards success.
I found the same mentality has applied to what I want out of life. There are times when I can doubt myself, times when I can think that what I want is not possible; unreachable. Times when I doubt the integrity of those around me. Nobody sees the future like I do. Nobody feels the intense craving of success quite like I do.
Outside of 12-Step meetings, I found a new purpose. A new reason to wake up every morning. An opportunity to create the music I would like to hear. The people who had manifested themselves around me locked in to my ambition and we experienced a taste of success.
We found ourselves with a glowing path towards a dream. We had our own producer. Our own engineer. We had free reign to record and engage our talents in a multi-million dollar studio. Half-way through our EP, the members of my band began to slip away from the dream I thought we all shared.
I don’t doubt we wanted to see more success, but I believe our band became complacent. Everything happened to us so quickly that we began to believe the journey moving forward would be easy. I now understand that we did not have the willpower to quell our own desires to provide opportunity for a better future. I wanted to work harder, while others wanted to coast.
As humans, we can easily become distracted. We can lose ourselves to activities that make us feel good. We can lose ourselves to the voice in our head. The voice that says “Drinking right now won’t cause any problems.”
A voice that says, “I can have sex with this person, it will feel good right now”
A voice that says “We should enjoy the spoils of existence while we’re here”
This voice had been the bane of my existence. Years of therapy in and around 12-step meetings taught me skills to subside my own desires to provide for a better future.
It is very simple now.
Before I act, before I make a decision, I think to myself, “Will this help? Or Will this hurt?”
“Is this for me? Or is this for you?”
“Am I coming from a place of Love? Or am I feeding into my own manipulative ego?”
I found myself preventing actions to feel pleasure now, knowing that my future self would benefit from the restraint. My future self would be better equipped to lead, to help, if I was strong in moments of want, moments of desire.
Key members of my band did not have this skill, and drama began to unfold between us…
Practices were unable to be performed, live performances quickly developed into debauchery, and communication was practically non-existent between members of the band.
I found myself trying to manage four completely different people, attempting to arrange studio sessions with our producer, while still being unsure of the location and well-being of my band mates.
I decided to try and solve the problem. I decided to take action and speak my mind to those who shared the same dream as mine. I tried to inspire hope and offer help.
I did the best I could.
It wasn’t enough:
I’m just tired. You guys talk like you want the same level of success as I do, but you don’t show up. We can make excuses all day about why we can’t follow up with a commitment, but what’s the point of a commitment if you can’t commit when the time comes? Bottom line is: we have not accomplished anything. The actions of the band seem to be that of laziness and arrogance. I understand we all have problems and a personal life, but how bad do we want to be successful? People don’t just make hit records over-night. They work, they play out, they get better, and they stick it out long enough to be noticed. They don’t quit. No matter how long it takes, they inevitably succeed.
I’m writing this right now because I’m angry.
I’m mad that you all don’t see what I see.
I see an extremely talented group of musicians; wonderful people, good people with big hearts that have an opportunity to do something really great. To spend the rest of our lives doing what we love. To extend hope and courage to any musician who feels like I do. Any musician who wonders if it is really possible to be successful.
I want the best for each of us and the best from all of us, not only for me, but for those who are too scared to follow their dreams.
I’ll say one thing I know, and that is no one who has been successful in the entertainment industry EVER had an easy journey. The success stories are all the same: they performed as often as possible, they practiced until their fingers bled, and they brought their project TO people. Musicians have spent years on the road loving their music with such persistence that EVERYONE eventually had to love them, because they didn’t stop.
A vehicle WILL NOT push itself towards a goal, we have to drive that son of a bitch until the wheels fall off and we all go crazy with a desire to see ourselves finish. A very wise dude told me once, “Nobody remembers how you start, they only remember how you finish” but I will always remember how we started and I will maintain my gratitude for the life I lead each day. I’m living a dream and I never want it to end. I want my dreams to be so real that I can hold myself to a standard that we all aspire for. To be part of an exclusive club of musical martyrs. Anthony Kiedis, Eddie Vedder, Thome Yorke, Dave Grohl, Gwen Stefani, Paul McCartney…we can live amongst the stars, but we HAVE to start burning first.
It’s funny, I think I’ve said “we” a lot, but to be honest I feel all alone.
After sharing the above passage with my band mates, things got better for about a week…
Then, I began having to delay contact with our producer to look for a good excuse for why we couldn’t show up to the studio…
I became extremely stressed, and eventually, I let our producer know the truth of what was happening within the band. He encouraged me to set up a meeting and try to work something out.
We met together and tried to work out a solution to the problems we had…
and haven’t been together since.
During the experience, the relationship with my girlfriend ended.
I found myself with no purpose outside of helping others around AA meetings.
Thoughts began to swell within and I captured them onto the notes section of my Iphone. I began to write poems about my past; written word’s attempting to use my own emotional state as an art form. I found writing helped my discomfort. I began to learn from the world around me and I began to engage in conversations with people who held a higher standard for themselves. A standard I would like to attain. I discovered podcasting and began to listen to interviews and conversations with people who had achieved success in the world of art and entertainment. Patterns began to form and I found myself taking notes in my mind. Forming a plan to better understand what it takes to be a successful artist.
The key to art that feels, I wanted to provide it and I began to write:
These scars remind me of who I was, where I’m from, who I am
Always on the prowl, I’ve got one thing on my mind
Score big, go home, repeat; it’s a crime
Wake up in the morning feeling low like dirt
Strap my shoes on, rig up, cig up; head to work
Scruffy as all hell; never a just shaved smell
My pain is dry and my thoughts are thick
Constant heavy drive in my gear got me feeling sick
I’m feeling shook, avoid the look, you think they know, they can see the hook
Desperate measures of a desperate man
The people I see and the places they go living in a world of their own
What could be worse, what could be better in the end it doesn’t matter
I’ve got a world of problems of my own making, lived my life always taking, never giving back from what I know, my life has always been a one man show
I’m the star, I’m the fan, I’m the life to light my dome, I’m the monster under covers, I’m the ghost you can’t bear to see, I’m the you, you never wanna be
So I accept my fate, I know where I’ve been, I don’t want to return, I’ll never lose again
I’m stoic for the fight I’m alive for the better, stormy, grey, sunshiny weather
It will change the way I feel, it will give me room to grow, it will teach me things I never knew; things I want to know
So I stand tall ready to face the fight knuckle up and crack down
I’m a graduate without a gown
A master’s degree in manipulation, a bachelors in what I want, head down shoulders square grind through my present like a grunt
I dove into the pain of my past. I wrote from the perspective of living in a world of heroin addiction and misery. The piece alludes to my daily life. Shooting dope in the morning, smoking a cigarette, and heading to work. Driving around the city wondering how people live normal lives. How people are content and happy just being. At the time of my drug use, I couldn’t understand how anybody could NOT be using heroin. It perplexed me. The only purpose I knew, the only purpose I wanted, was to feel good constantly. Whats the point of living if we’re not high? The mindset of a dope fiend. I had to write about it to remind myself that I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t want to fail. Everything had left me when the poem was written. My band, my girlfriend, and my dreams. I felt like the only thing I had to hold on to was my sobriety and I wrote to enforce that.
I spent two weeks calling a close friend every morning trying to figure out why I was so miserable, why I had lost everything. I found a reason. I found that I had lost myself in the pursuit of my own dreams. I had disengaged from my close friends and had been completely consumed by what I wanted, what I felt like I was here to do.
My friend told me that the last few months, I had been a shell of my former self. I was no longer fun to be around and I had isolated myself from the network of friends we shared. He implored me to stop being selfish and reengage myself with people who actually cared about me. I heeded his advice and began to throw myself at others, engaging my feelings of loneliness, pain, and remorse constantly.
Eventually, I began to fix myself. I began to reconnect with those who cared. My girlfriend and I got back together.
One evening, I went with her and her family to see the movie “Interstellar”. After the film, we were back at her father’s house smoking cigarettes outside, looking at the stars, when an idea hit me and I began to write:
To understand that all emotional states are exclusive to the individual perceiving them. Music, lyrics, & ideas may spark a varied emotional response depending on the mind state and experience of the individual receiving the stimulation. We want to hone in on the emotions we feel and attempt to display them for others.
A few days later, I was contacted by a member of the Israel Birthright program. A program that provides any Jewish young adult, age 18-26, a free trip to Israel. They pay for the flight, the travel arrangements, and two meals a day. It’s a 10 day trip that I had experienced as a participant the summer of 2011.
I was contacted to be a staff member to help lead a specialized group. A group that catered to the young adult addict/alchoholic.
With no prospects for my future, no dreams to pursue, I agreed to be a staff member for the trip; opening the door into a realm of spirituality…