I believe in finding purpose. When I find purpose then I have all I need to drive me to make something useful of myself. One of the things that I’ve worked out for myself is the value of serving other people. This is what then gives me a purpose, makes me feel useful and then leads to fulfillment.
I have one of those “dream” jobs that people fantasize about. I am a singer in a band, and have made my living from this for the last twenty-five years. It’s a job that sounds great and can be loads of fun, but has many pitfalls and a never ending list of challenges.
An example of one of the pitfalls is alcohol. What other jobs are there where you are encouraged and expected to drink alcohol. As a singer, it’s always available and always free and constantly being offered, but it’s the worst thing for your voice. I learned very early in the game that this has to be avoided, despite the temptation always being there.
I have worked with plenty of musicians who drink when they work, and I’ve never seen it make someone play better. Sadly, I’ve heard it make many musicians sound a whole lot worse. I’ve had some highly embarrassing moments on the bandstand surrounded by drunks while I’ve been totally sober. The audience look perplexed while the guys in the band think they sound amazing.
One of the major challenges of being a singer is getting older. Our culture is preoccupied with youth, and the music business takes this further than any other occupation. I have the experience of performing on somewhere around three thousand gigs, but the person hiring the band will generally prefer a singer with little or no experience but with the right look, that is, young and sexy. In contrast, imagine needing an operation or surgery but opting for a young, good looking doctor rather than an older, experience one. Another example might be that you are facing jail, but rather than employing the most experienced lawyer available, you prefer to hire a young sexy lawyer.
Another challenge that is hard to take is part time singers and musicians who happily play for free because they want to live out a fantasy of being a “rock star” for the night. Sometimes I fantasize about being a banker and buying and selling companies in foreign lands, but I don’t anticipate that anyone is going to let me do that for even one hour.
Getting back to my original statement of finding purpose, the older I get the more I value “serving” other people. I work harder now on a gig than I have ever worked because I can see my role more clearly than ever before. I generally get employed to perform at occasions in people’s live that are highly significant to them, such as their wedding or their birthday party, where primarily my role is to make the night as memorable as possible. So, this is what I try to do. It’s all about them, and not about me. It sounds like a cliche, but that’s where my journey as a singer has taken me.