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Life Is Good

Anything that feels worthwhile to me involves making other people happy. I know this because when I focus too much on myself, I’m unhappy, and when I help other people meaningfully, I’m happy. Not too complicated.

After performing at the open mic, I started having all these thoughts that I’d never really had before, as is normal after a new experience. I think I understand why I haven’t been able to motivate myself to make “art.” The problem I’m having, I think, is that I see art as a hedonistic and egotistical pursuit. It doesn’t have to be, but that’s how I see it right now, at least if I were to make it mine. I mean, I like making music and painting because they’re methods of expression I enjoy, and everyone needs to express themselves. I also think I’m good at it, and I like how it feels to be good at something and have people tell me I’m great, etc. Who doesn’t?

I’ve been having trouble envisioning my future. I see music as a “dream,” and you’re not supposed to abandon your dreams, or else you lose at life. But if it’s a dream, then why am I having so much trouble acting on it? Why can’t I actually see myself being a musician? What’s missing? Why do I feel like I have no idea what I’m working towards? Why am I not excited for my life in 5 years?

I think it’s because I can’t devote the bulk of my days to trying to get people to compliment me. What I’d hope for in making music is to make millions of people happy with what comes out of my mouth, but that depends a lot on luck and talent, and I’m no Bob Dylan, or whoever. And if that did happen, it wouldn’t be for years, and I’d have to spend most of my time until then devoted to nothing else but writing and getting better, concentrating on myself and not contributing to anything else very meaningfully. At least, that’s how I see it.

The guy I played with at the open mic is a very good musician, and he was just in the greatest mood after the show and all the admiration he was showered with by the audience. It was like he was high, and I knew it would wear off. It made me think that maybe music is an addiction, and those who can make a living off it are addicts. It would explain why some of the greatest musicians were all fucked up and depressed. Which explains the great music.

Maybe I’m just not an addict. Don’t get me wrong, I love making music (and writing, any artform), and I need it to express myself. But I can’t see myself spending most of my life expressing myself. It sounds exhausting! Success in music depends on constant product output, and I just don’t pump things out very consistently. I can’t see myself spending most of my life, for me. And if I did happen to help someone with my art, I’d have no way of knowing. I can’t see myself spending my days as a musician because I don’t spend my days as a musician.

I wrote about this before, but I’d love to find a way to blend art and goodwill. I’m still not sure how to do this. But I do know something I didn’t know before: I can see myself spending my days thinking about other people, and making other people happy. I don’t have a job, and I’m not happy. I still play music and write because I have to express myself, but the rest of time, I’m twiddling my thumbs, wondering why I’m not playing music and writing, because that’s what I like to do, right? Right, but I like to help people more, and that’s what’s missing in my days. It’s so good to know this, because this motivates me, and the 30, 40, 50-year-old Stephanie I imagine looks happy, fulfilled.

It sounds all generous and shit of me, but really it’s pretty selfish: I want to feel like people need me, and a career in art wouldn’t give me that. I’m just finding out how to get what I want.

I’m starting to think about going into nursing, for many reasons. I’ll write about them another time, because I’m bored of this and I have to pee. Peace!

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Open Mic Night

Last week I went to inspect an open mic that I knew was happening. I ended up running into someone from my program in university, which was cool; I’d seen her perform at coffee houses a couple years ago and she seemed awesome, so it was nice to actually meet her. She said she often comes to this place, so I was both happy I’d see her again, and anxious because I knew it would make performing more difficult; I wanted to perform to a completely random audience, for self-preservation’s sake.

But oh well. I called up a guy I play music with sometimes, and asked if he wanted to do a couple songs. He came over yesterday, and we prepared “Just a Boy” by Angus and Julia Stone, and “9 Crimes” by Damien Rice. It was fine. I practised a bit today, got the notes I couldn’t hit at first, and was good to go.

This was the first time I sang publicly, I’m pretty sure. There was no mic at the open mic (…), and my friend plays really loud and gets intense, so I was completely drowned out. I tried to sing louder but in doing so, I forced my voice and hit some wrong notes. It sucked, at least in my head. My piano was fine, though. I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as I thought, which was also what my friend told me. He played a couple songs of his own, which were amazing. The girl from my program told us the timbre of our voices sounded good together, but I have a feeling she just wanted to say something. Haha.

But I don’t really care! The loudness wasn’t really my fault, and neither was the fact that when I’m nervous, my throat constricts. Also, when I’m nervous in front of audiences, I think I sabotage myself. It ends up being bad because I expect it to be. I think it’s because I subconsciously want to hit rock bottom, so that anything afterwards is a step up. I mean, I don’t want to be nervous in front of audiences forever, and if it went well, I’d reinforce the anxious behaviour! I guess by having good experiences from the get-go, the anxiety would disappear. But what happens when you take a nosedive after so many good experiences? Twenty years later, you’re at rock bottom and you think it’s the end, because you’ve never had to build from zero.

Fucked up way to look at it, but whatever. I always take the long way around. Now that I know that sucking isn’t the end of the world, I’m not afraid for it to happen again. Sucking is kind of boring though, so not sucking as much next time would be good.

I’m happy I did it. I just need to make sure I make “next time” happen soon because last time I played in front of an audience (at a WEDDING), the same thing happened: I was rendered fearless and incredibly excited to perform more… but I waited too long. So I need to take advantage of this “no fear” thing, and start making good things happen. Random audience la prochaine fois, I hope.

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