Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Means To An End

I hate working in a restaurant. I absolutely hate it. The hours are long, the work is back-breaking and the customers are demanding and rude. Most nights I come home wearing and/or smelling like the entire menu. It’s really a surprise to me that stray cats don’t follow me home every night. So why do it? A means to an end….that’s what I call it. Right now it pays the bills and gives me the money to buy the things I need. I’m not talking about food and clothes, I’m talking about lights and music and speakers and microphones. I’m talking about business cards and advertising and a website. I’ve invested a lot of time, money and effort into getting started in music, and I know it’s going to take a lot more….a hell of a lot more, which means waiting on a hell of a lot more tables. Right now, that’s where the money is, but I still hate it. I’m grateful that I have it, but I still hate it. I’m not one of those people who lead a charmed life, but I know of people who do. It seems from the moment they were born the pieces of their lives just fell perfectly in place in the puzzle and a beautiful picture emerged, leaving them sitting pretty on top of the world. That has definitely not been the case for me. I realized early that nothing is going to come easy. I can get what I want, but I’m going to have to work my ass off for it. I have to work twice as hard as the next guy to convince people that I have the talent to do the job. I have to work twice as hard to convince them to at least give me a chance to prove myself, and it seems that I have to work at least three times as hard to convince others to look past what’s on the outside and see the real me on the inside. I used to be afraid of what they would think when they finally saw the real me, but I’m not anymore. It used to bother me when they doubted my abilities. Now it annoys me more than anything else. I know I have something that they don’t have. Something deep inside of my soul that I was born with. You can call it talent, you can call it ability, you can call it passion….you can call it whatever you want, but it’s there. I know it’s there because I can feel it stirring inside me, like a geyser trying to rise to the surface. It drives me and pushes me to do things that aren’t “normal” or “practical”….like giving away my coffee table so there would be enough clear floor space in my living room to dance. Anyway, I have to keep doing what I’m doing to get where I’m going. I’ll keep waiting tables and collecting tips. I may have to do everything piece by piece, but you have to start with baby steps….like they say, you have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Just do me (and all those other hard-working servers out there) a BIG favor….the next time you eat out at a restaurant where someone is trying to cater to your every little whim, make sure you recognize them for it. Leave a tip that shows them you appreciate the time and effort they’ve put into making your experience a pleasant and enjoyable one. Remember, there may be someone like me on the receiving end of that tip….someone who is working even harder to make their dreams come true.

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Voice

I can’t turn it off….I don’t know how. I’ve never known how. I look out the window and I can think of a hundred reasons to go out into the warm sunshine. I can think of so many things I could accomplish….all the things I could get done in one twenty-four hour period. I see cars as they pass through the intersection in front of my house. All kinds of people going in all different directions for all different reasons….most of them oblivious to the others. I should be out there doing things….going places….doing all those things that normal people do. I should, but I won’t. I won’t because something here is calling to me….calling with a voice that only my heart can hear….a voice that I have never been able to ignore. As I turn from the window, I know what is waiting for me. I know it’s only a matter of time before we are together again.

I walk silently to the other side of the room. Reaching over, I flip a switch on the back of the console. As the small windows light up, I feel a tingle pass through me. I push the power button on the board to my right. More lights glow. Opening the drawer, I insert a disc….as the drawer closes, I feel the console vibrate lightly and hear a whirring sound as the disc spins. In seconds, I see the numbers on the LED display. I choose a track and then look to the right as I adjust the controls on the board. Reaching up, I wrap my hand around the microphone and pull it from the stand. I push the button and the power light shines green. I tap lightly on the top and hear a low thump, thump. I feel a stirring in my soul as a smile spreads across my face in anticipation. As the music begins to pulsate through the speakers standing to each side of me, I inhale deeply and turn as my heart and soul are transported to a place deep in the recesses of my mind. A place I have always longed to be….a place where I feel I belong. The words of the song flow effortlessly from my lips. I have sung these words before and will no doubt sing them again. They are words that speak to me and inspire me. I stop singing and listen as the measures of an instrumental take over the middle of the song, then I start again just as effortlessly as before. As the song draws to an end, the music becomes quiet and subdued. I sing the last lines slowly with passion and longing. The heartbreak is inevitable. The music fades to silence as I close my eyes. Soon reality overtakes me and reminds me where I am….here, alone, in my living room. The voice calls to me again….more, it pleads, more….I give in to it as I choose another track and raise the microphone to my lips. Before I realize it, hours have passed and another day is gone.

Some may say I should have done something more constructive….others might say I wasted my time away dreaming….still others may call me foolish….and I guess to some extent, they may be right. But that one voice I hear calling to me tells me “it doesn’t matter what they think….it doesn’t matter what they say….it doesn’t even matter if they like you. It only matters what you think, what you say, and if YOU like you.” As I stand staring at the console, my one voice asks again, “more, please?” I change the disc, choose a new track and listen as the music begins again. Just like the voice that speaks to my heart, I can’t turn the music off. I hear it everywhere, begging me to sing along….it never leaves me….it never turns me away….it never lets me down. The thrills, the emotions, the excitement….they are always there waiting to be experienced, and I can never say no. This is my drug of choice. This is my passion….