Earlier today I was speaking to a friend of mine about success. Feeling successful and having done some things that you have made a success of to some extent, are very different. A bit like training for a marathon, in training it is a success to manage a 15 mile run because that is the furthest you have ever run, but it is not the end of the race or through the finish line.
Over the past few years, there have been many small milestones of success I have managed to achieve, some more poignant and visible and others more internal. There are only a few of these milestones that rewarded me with anything apart from the personal satisfaction or improvement I could feel. In 2008 I challenged myself to run my first 10K and at the end of that race there was this great feeling of pride and achievement as I puffed my way through the finish line. The second time I ran that same distance, the achievement hit was less powerful, so the following year I stepped up the challenge to run a half marathon, a bit like a junkie might have to up his dose of a drug to get a better hit the next time.
In parallel to running these distance events I was also running another marathon of sorts, a musical one. I had a goal of sorts in my mind that I was trying to achieve but with this goal there is no finish line, no distance set, no known finish line, no mapped out route, nothing but the distance with no definite successful end point to aim for. So blindly I have been wading my way through the tasks at hand and music expression trying to find some way to success as I envision it to be.
House music in all it’s forms has been my running partner in life race and in more reccent times with greater spiritual awareness and faith, more and more, the map that I am following is drawn out by trusting my inner self and guidance. I don’t make music to a format, I make music from my heart. I don’t try to fit into anything that is already made, I take all that I am, all that is influencing my current state of expression and just allow that to flow, be that to the taste of other or not. I try not to look at others in the race in comparison, just put my blinkers on and keep it moving to the best of my own ability with what I have to hand, because that is all I can do.
I work hard, I have worked on my self, my mind, my body and my soul, my education, built my skills, built music, taught myself a lot of what I know, but still not reached what I feel will be that feeling of success despite exeeding many expectations I had about myself. I get frustrated sometimes because I don’t have all the skills and better equipment I feel I need to make me more successful, or give me a better shot at being successful. But how do you become successful, what is the winning formula that gets you through that golden gate, that is what I am still working on.
The bar seems to just keep rising the closer you feel you are getting to it, but it is partly me that keeps re-setting it really, because even though I achieve a certain stage, once I get there I still don’t feel satisfied, I still want more. I want to build a better tune, I want to write and sing a better song, I want my mastered end products to sound better, they are still not good enough to me, therefore I cannot feel success. Equally I have not been rewarded to any great extent by way of notoriety or financial gain and without that, though the personal satisfaction is there, to have another or others pat you on the back in some way does qualify things just that little bit more.
The only rewards have been my own self satisfaction, the momentary feeling of joy you get when you finish the latest track and you think it is your best track yet, but that soon dies, because you soon get that feeling that you need to make a better one, because the phone is not ringing like mad with people saying how wonderful it was! I amagine though even if the phone did start ringing like mad and one track was deemed brilliant, that after that the race is still on to make another brilliant track, so you are still running that race.
With music, there is only running, there is only the continual marathon, staying in it, keeping it moving, there is no finish line until you give up, if you ever give up, or until you die. This is why I find it is important to do things that have a finish line in tandem with music. I am someone now that needs to feel I’ve got through a finish line in at least something in my life, at least by running and taking part in events as part of my life I get that sense of success and achievement, I get a medal or a certificate to put on my wall, I get the feel good factor of raising some money for others. I get a few pats on the back from others that my music and setting up my own label business doesn’t give me because the fruits of that labour are yet to be harvested and are not visible to others until that day.
As I approach the last months training for my first full marathon on May 27th I am looking forward to getting through that finish line and the feeling of joy that I have achieved something that does have a visible finish line as I continue with my passions and dreams with music that don’t have that same definite route or ending.