“If It Won’t Make Money, It’s a Waste of Time”

If it won’t make money, it’s a waste of time.

— This is my latest demon.

I find that I’m discouraged so easily from the things I used to enjoy merely because there is this pressure driving like a train behind every ambition. The simple idea of picking up my guitar, going for a run, sketching a drawing, taking some artistic photos or… they all become overwhelming instead of natural, impulsive and delightful.

Stressors, stressors everywhere.

I have become a chronic over-thinker. However, I don’t think that I chose this path willingly. No, I believe I fooled myself into it. See, the kind of church I grew up in (from age 9) revolved around marriage being the central part of a man’s life, if not THE most important part.

The jobs I took, the career I would [be encouraged to] pursue (or stay away from), the hobbies I entertained…they all passed under the critical lens of what kind of framework will this set up for marriage. I need to make money, because I need to get married and (dare I say) be molded by the churning, marriage-life process to become a better Christian.

Now, those things may be well and good, but I let the heavy thoughts of money and the future way me down and discourage me from exploration, instead of using the opportunity of youth (younger youth…I’m still young) to stoke fires and passions more and not put any lid on my potential.

I played so much of life safe. I feel like an egg, a project, waiting so long to hatch.

Yet, now that I have finally broken out of a few crippling cocoons, I fear (as I did even back then) my second demon; that it’s just too late. You missed the train. You worried your time away. Your doing it backwards. Put that guitar back down, your new best friend is your college loan and he doesn’t care much for songs that don’t sound like a rubber band snapping around a wad of cash. Now IS the time to be setting up that framework. Now IS the time to put “childish” things away. Now is NOT the time to take risks. Now IS the time to begin settling…

Yeesh. Is it, though?

Is this that tipping point no one really talks about, but we all know stands in the back of every family photo at Christmas? The part where you give up dreams you had and assume the position to climb into your adult shell that has been knitted for you like a gross sweater by Father Time since the moment of your birth? Is this where you slowly mold into the couch potato, as your father was before you, living in service to his nine-to-five, clutching onto the remainder of life as loosely he does the steering wheel on the drive in while old tunes of better times remind himself of the young, able, spry man he was just a blink ago?…

I shutter at the thought. Where some other 26-y/o may be wondering, Oh, what kind of family picture could I be in right now with a few kids and maybe a dog?, I find myself wondering, Oh, what kind of abilities could I have mastered and be enjoying more deeply by now in a way that may have even shaped my career? 

Let’s just continue with the thought of music. I have more songs than I can count in my head, and more demos than anyone will ever hear in forgotten files. Amongst the barrage of crippling thoughts musicians already face (…everything’s been done before, I can’t possibly be unique now, I’m simply not good enough, I’m bored of this song already, I wish I had that voice, these lyrics are just dumb…), we have a craving to convey exactly what we hear in our heads and that usually means needing tons more or better gear, none of which is cheap. So, suddenly, that reach for the neck of the guitar becomes a premeditated laundry list of expenses for items not yet acquired or studio sessions worth a new, first car. Once that glaring bill, along with the thought of the months of work it would take to acquire that cash and the residual, foolish thoughts of self-doubt all print out…suddenly, it becomes hard to justify…especially if you have been grown in a local church for the purpose of picking one of the girls at your small group for marriage, instead of that mahogany-bodied acoustic off the wall.

I want to take a breather.

I talk about marriage a lot. Well, I hope you can see how much I was talked to about marriage by it. But I don’t want to paint it as a bad picture. I am not afraid of it and I look forward to the day it arrives. What I am afraid of is people (myself included) not realizing their potential, people not using the incredible gifts they were made with, people throwing out dreams that they were put on this earth to realize because certain chains masked by “guidance” held them down. I’m afraid that real, deep-down, it’s-okay-to-talk-about, we-all-go-through-it things won’t be processed freely and healthily.

Most of us were entering our 20s with marriage in mind and, I dare say, idolizing it. Oh, how I wish the word marriage was replace by exploration in those days. It’s one thing to “want,” another to “should.” Some high-schoolers want to drive a car… Readiness and willingness are not always in step with each other. I could go on…but I will save it for another post.

I am afraid that people will become just as chronic an over-thinker as I am. Regrets are the worst of guests. They will stay past their due, never pay rent on time, invite their friends like it’s their house, leave the milk out and make you feel like it was your fault.

It’s a hard conversation to have, but you have to storm down the hall, shoulder through Regrets door with the “KEEP OUT” sign that’s been hanging off-center for 10 years, shut down the party and tell him he has to finally move out and get a life somewhere else! Because you need the space back. You’re making room for better guests: New memories, good memories.

A house full of regret has no empty beds for new memories.

TS

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