Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where's your crown, King Nothing?

Ah, what a great tune...Metallica really kicks it on that one!

It reminds me of this dream I had a few years ago. I have the strangest dreams, like the time I was helping my very peaceful mother plot the murder of some scary guys (they had it comin'), and we were gonna buy the guns from old people with Alzheimer's, 'cause they were in a home, and they wouldn't remember who owned the guns...rendering them untraceable. The guns, not the people. Yeah....Doubly funny if you know how non-violent my mom is.

So, anyway, back to the first dream. I was fighting this monster in a swamp, and then I defeated it. I jumped out of the swamp, onto this giant bookshelf. I started jumping up level after level, and shelf after shelf. Each one was completely forlorn and barren, but I kept jumping...level up, level up. I got to the top, and - it was exactly the same as the other shelves.

This brings us to the related topics of ambition and competition.

Ask yourself: Why do I play guitar? (or do anything?)

I play for many reasons, and they subtly change over time. Number one is, of course, my deep love for music. I often feel that this love is inferior to say, Steve Vai's obsession with the guitar, but I'm coming to terms with that, and realizing that hey, this is how I like music, so there.

Competition used to be a very big factor for me, and it's one that I'd like to talk about. I was just discussing this with a client, and it's very tricky sometimes. Competition can give us great motivation, and will provide the discipline we need to excel. Empires can be built on three words: Eat my dust. And a dust cloud we may indeed make, conquering the world with a fearsome arpeggio storm, brotha!

Too often, however, competition turns fear-based. A good way to see if you're tying up your self worth in six strings is to watch this video. If you want to jump off a cliff, it's a pretty good bet that you might want to examine the concept of competition. I did, and I am.

Wouldn't it be nice just to play guitar for guitar's sake? Not to take over the world, or show Jenny what a man she lost, or Henry that his sweep picking is really quite substandard? It's amazing how many of us base our self-esteem on a role we play, be it a parent, a musician, or an athlete. If we're only worthy if we're number one, well, stay away from YouTube. Some four year old kid will cut you down with some shred, brotha. This unhealthy competition, for it is sick to need to prove ourselves with some weedle deedle notes, turns into a huge obstacle for authentic music.

I'm still trying to sort all of this out, and I'd be very curious to hear your thoughts on it. Go ahead and leave a comment! I've been pondering it for years, and have been competing even longer. It's getting old.

I mean, yeah, aim high, but - have fun, dude! Isn't this why we're musicians?

Rock on!

1 comment:

Pot Luck Herbs said...

Hey Josh...your mom sent me :) lol. She shared your link for your inspiration blog...but I got to readin' and wanted to comment on this one. I've always had a big problem with perfectionism myself..and while I understand this isn't the same thing as being competitive I think they have a lot in common. You are totally right about the competitive nature being a great source of energy and inspiration to get something done. I think you're on the right track though, learning to love something for it's own sake without needing to be the best. There's a quote for that: "If only the birds with the prettiest voices sung, the forest would be a very quiet place." It's a tough place to get to, where you're okay with "losing" the competition with your ideal self...but once you get there a lot of the worries you used to have just become things to laugh about.