I’m 48 years old. Life is rich in so many ways. I have the most beautiful, supportive husband by my side. A daughter I dreamed of and the career I so desperately wanted.
But I'm not 'happy' ... So what’s wrong?
Well, the dream isn’t all it's cracked up to be. I live a life filled with integrity. So much integrity I may as well cut off my ear. I have waded through this life living by the supposed heart truths “those who matter will see”, “change is destined” and “truth will out”.
But it just isn't working. Integrity and passion simply isn't enough. And why? Because for my family, my life isn't fair. It isn't fair to work so hard and earn so little. It isn't fair to be emotionally disengaged for months on end for less remuneration than an inexperienced teenager. It isn't fair to expect them to do so much in order for me to keep my integrity. That is - to write with a true and honest voice and not be concerned with popularisation.
Civil rights activist Maya Angelou said “No one has ever become poor from giving.” I respectfully disagree. Countless respected and history-making authors, painters, composers, scientists and other visionaries have died in poverty only to have their creative output exploited/realised upon or after their passing. To be a creative spirit means to give your self, your WHOLE self to your creative pursuits. And this can make you very poor indeed - especially when the outcome is not shared as it could or should be.
Whilst I comprehend the context of Angelou I can personally say that my life is a charity, and whilst I enjoy giving and doing jobs for the age-old promise of exposure, I'm still wondering how exposing myself is going to pay the electricity bill.
So why do I do what I do? Why do I keep going...?
Well .. lately, I've been asking that question of myself. I am a composer who wants to make a change to the way children perceive music in their lives, and thus develop a more sustainable love of music that will continue throughout their WHOLE lives. THAT’S my dream… because I passionately believe that as life becomes more difficult as the years progress, it is music that will help us endure even the toughest challenge. I've realised now that my dream ... it’s flawed. It is flawed because it is so beautiful to me that it cannot be monetised. I personally cannot monetise it.
I am not alone here. There are countless accounts of artists from every genre rejecting the monetisation of their craft. For the creator it is crude, vulgar, abhorrent even. For me personally, to create something new, something personal is to share my entire soul in a moment of sound. But that moment takes a lifetime of experience, study and craft to create. And even when it’s finally written down in tiny little dots and dashes upon five defining horizontal lines, it takes the right people and the right energy and respect of your craft from those people to breath the right kind of sound-realisation into those tiny little dots and dashes.
Without those people, that energy and respect, I, the composer, am adrift, helpless ... and no-one understands what you are trying to say. You may as well be one of the millions of plastic straws afloat in the ever-increasing polluted oceans of the Earth.
My advice? If you want to live your dream, do so, but do so with a well-researched design, a method to monetise your talent and a business partner who can take the money side of things AWAY from the creative "you". Find ways to make a sustainable existence and keep the dreaming for … the dreaming.
I’m not trying to be negative, just really honest and it’s about time someone was.
Replace “live your dream" with "live your dream and find a way to make a living from it”. Just because it's YOUR dream, because you are passionate about it, doesn't mean it's going to pay for the groceries. It’s VITAL to your mental health, your self-worth and your loved ones. It's also vital for the future of humanity - because if we're not dreaming, creating and expressing, we are not advancing and as a race. And if we are not advancing artistically and creatively, in time, the human race will simply cease to exist.
So go - live your dream. But don't sell yourself short... in fact, don't sell yourself at all.