“Professors I respect have told me to choose between pursuing a career as an artist, musician, or author. I admit their unanimous advice is practical, but I … With a word, I close this book to begin another: Gesamtkunstwerk.”
I wrote these words as a college student. They were believed throughout my twenties and even some of my thirties. However, at the age of thirty-three, I finally agree with my professors.
The book that was to begin has not been produced. The numerous paintings and music to correspond with the words have also been withheld. A lack of focus is my Achilles’ heel.
As an art student, I noticed how everyone seemed to have one area of expertise while everything else seemed awkward for them. Someone comfortable behind a camera was out of place at an easel. Someone that could make a beautiful painting had no interest in editing video.
Despite being able to do most things better than most people, I was not the best in any one thing. Outside of art, the same was true with music. I was not the best guitar player, but the best guitarist could not match my abilities with a piano or drum kit. There is one exception that comes to mind, but my range of genres was wider than his.
Even in terms of work experience, I have a variety without a specialty. I have constantly dealt with competing interests that seem to have little in common. Perhaps I could hold these things better in my twenties, but I am currently in my thirties.
I must choose. As I sit at this computer there are car parts behind me. At the back of the room is an easel. Paint on a nearby palette has hardened since the last time it was used. My guitars to the side are likely out of tune. In the garage is a piano that was taken apart because of plans to restore it. I am surrounded by notes and ideas of things to say and do.
I have more to point to but why bother? The plans have been made. It is time to choose the priority and get to work.
Here’s to the first day of 2021.
The following was typed on December 26, 2014.
I broke down crying on my commute today and again when I arrived at work and plenty of times thereafter. God knows I’m not bragging, but I want to publicly thank Christian for literally making my dreams come true.
For most of my teenage years, I would stare at a particular keyboard in every Musician’s Friend catalog I received. Knowing it cost more than my car, it was ridiculous of me to even consider the possibility of buying it, but I held to the idea of maybe someday. Last year, Christian bought me that keyboard as a graduation/birthday/Christmas present.
During college, I would drive to Guitar Center to play a particular guitar between classes. Again, I knew my dream was beyond my means, but I held to the idea of maybe someday. Years went by and every semester I would drive to find it, play a few songs, and put it back on the wall.
The guitar now rests beside my keyboard, and I am overwhelmed.
It is now October 12, 2022.
The guitar is resting in its case, stored in a closet. The keyboard is still played, but not often enough to prevent dust from collecting. In my periphery is a bass guitar. I remember telling Christian about it. I said, if you were to hand me a blank check and say this can only be used to buy a bass — this is the one I’d buy!
Behind the bass is an amp that was owned by Tim Foreman. When Switchfoot announced a hiatus, they decided to sell some equipment. When it arrived, I played the opening riff of, This Is Your Life.
My dreams came true, and now my son plays with these possessions without knowing the backstory.