Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Hey Comrades!

August is here. I'm always glad to see it. I say "Hello August! Only a month till you're dead!"
Yeah, I'm not a big fan on the summer.

I'll tell you what I AM a fan of, though! Inspiration!

Of course, there's a story...

I got a call today. "Hey Josh, it's ___" (We'll call him Sam.)

"SAM! Dude, are you like ten feet tall? Your voice is so deep!" Sam is a former guitar student of mine, and he was calling to set up a visit. I hadn't seen him or his cousin, ___ (we'll call him Joe), also a former student, for probably about three years.

We sat around my teaching studio and talked for a good while. These fellas are 17 and 18, and about to set foot out into the big ol' world. It was super fun to toss around ideas about the future. It was neat for me to remember being 18. Seven years, while trivial with almost any metric, do put one in a very different phase of life. I always enjoy seeing old students. It's an honor that they stop by, financially un-obligated with any cancellation notice or anything, just to say hello.

The subject of ideal careers came up. Ever itching to put on my motivational speaking hat, I eagerly told Sam and Joe about my "Ask" theory. This is something I'm sure I've blogged about before, but I'd like to repeat it.

When we first get an inkling of what we really like in life, we excitedly tell the world. To quote "Little Stevie Vai" from his subtly profound track The Audience is Listening, "When I grow up, I'm gonna be a famous rock 'n roll guitar player!"

And just like the song, people laugh at the cute little kid at first. But then when it's apparent that the person is serious about pursuing their dream, they're beaten down. I've had many people tell me "Seriously, how many people make it? You'd better find a fall back."

We quickly learn to conceal the dream, because it hurts to be scoffed at.

There it rests, like the memory of a dear departed friend. Sadly, just like memories, it fades with neglect. One day, on our way to that dusty room where we've locked it away, we realize that, not only have we misplaced the key, but that we don't even remember what exactly it was that we locked up.

"Ah, it must have been to be a music manager!" we think. Now, that is an exciting and dynamic career, so to all you managers, don't think I'm knocking your craft. I'm not.

But, remember we started out wanting to be famous rock 'n roll guitar players? We've become so good at concealing the dream from other people, that we've hidden it from ourselves.

So we drift, and we know we're missing the target. Frustration sets in, and we might think "why can't I be the best at _____? It's not like I'm asking to be a rock star or anything!" Livingston Taylor once wrote "It hurts just as much to fall from a small dream as a big one."

Honesty with ourselves is vital. We need to find our way to that room, unlock the door, and look clearly at the dream. Maybe we've outgrown it, and then we can thank it, and place it respectfully back on the shelf. But maybe it's what we're really after. And, in the silence of that room, we can say to ourselves "This is what I really want to do with my life." Nobody has to hear you, and you never have to tell anyone.

But if you aren't clear about what exactly it is that you want, it's much harder to get. Ask. And ask for what you really want.

Now, sometimes one dream may morph into another. A young man named Johnny played guitar once, and moved with his band to LA. They flopped. Broke up. Done. Someone told him to come read for a movie. He got the part. You might have heard of him. His last name is Depp.

So, you're not always going to get what you ask for. But don't keep that dream locked away in the dust. It misses you.

- Josh


Cathy Stengel said...

Hey Josh, you don't know me because I'm usually hanging out over at your mom's blog, fb, etc. Her FB sent me over here to take a look at what she was bragging about. I'm a mom too, so I get all that.

Your words might have been a repeat of something you posted at some other time, but today I read them...and you know it's not the first time your mother talked about you over yonder. Something pulled me over there to read what you had posted...and there it was, the words....don't let your dream go to dust.

For a while I've let other people lead my dream. I was going to write....a book, no?, okay I'll write an article, ok, it doesn't seem like a funny idea to me, maybe I'll just write a poem....oh, and keep it to myself I guess.

In the past couple of years, even being coached by a great writer I have taken myself off the task as many times as I have put myself back on...begging to have some part of the universe tell me YOU CAN DO IT! I'm guessing those words need to be heard, from my heart. I do have something to say, and somewhere in here I have the ability to say it.

As some who know me might say...how about you practice what you would say to someone else.

Thanks Josh, for saying it to me. Keep up the mentoring, encouraging, believing in....

Cathy Stengel said...

I just wonder what happened to my comment? Was it cybernapped?

Josh Urban said...

Hey Cathy!

Haha, nope, no cybernapping! Just me being slow on the moderation. GREAT comment. Thanks so much for sharing!

Can't wait to read some of your writing. Please do share. You know, I read this great book once called "Effortless Mastery." It's for musicians, but you might like it. It had a cool quote from Miles Davis about having conviction about what you're playing (or writing) is the greatest. Slightly edited, and very paraphrased, it goes (directed at the audience) "Sit down, shut up, listen, because this is the greatest stuff that you're ever gonna hear." While it's kind of arrogant how he puts it, I think we can say that to our inner critic on those down days!

Get it done, comrade! As Van Halen would say..."Might as well Jump!" Jump in, the water's great!