Last Thursday I sat in a small club with friends listening to a harmony of poetry, guitars, a bass and a mandolin...
The music and words danced together...took me by the hand and pulled me along on a journey...
They reached into my heart, triggering long-lost memories and emotions.
But then, out of no where, I also found myself thinking about success and failure, and what defines either one.
I was at the Saxon Pub for the first time ever. It's a small nightclub, an intimate setting between the musicians and the audience. The Shake Russell Trio performed, joined by Michael Hearne...my first time ever to hear him.
Shake and Michael have written some wonderful songs, separately and together. Both are poets and musicians with loads of talent.
Shake Russell's voice, music, and poetry captivated me years ago, but to my surprise, he never made it 'big'...not by Nashville, New York or Hollywood terms, anyway. From the first time I heard "Deep in the West" 30 plus years ago, I expected to hear his distinctive voice all over the radio.
A couple of big names recorded some of his songs, but their voices don't compare to his, especially when performing his songs. Why didn't some music executive jump on the ones he recorded himself and promote them?
Maybe it was Shake's choice.. Perhaps he would have had to conform, fit into a niche created by someone else, and it just wasn't worth it.
I really don't know.
But I realize it's a possibility. What is the definition of success anyway? Winning awards? Making a lot of money? Maybe to some, but not to everyone.
Next to me Thursday night sat Debbie, a girl I haven't seen since high school...and didn't know well back then...but thanks to my blog and Facebook, I didn't feel a stretch of years between us at all. That in itself is enough to make me feel my blog is successful - helping me connect to other people, even if I don't have hundreds of readers like other blogs I come across.
Why do I even keep comparing?
I guess success can mean different things to different people. Shake has certainly touched a lot of lives with his music and poetry - when we had our house concert last April, we heard so many stories from friends about what his music meant to them. They wondered, like I did, why they didn't hear his name or music more often.
He has recorded tons of songs on CD's and sold many of his songs to other artists (one is on the radio now..."The Girl Just Loves to Dance", recorded by Gary P. Nunn. Request it on the radio so Shake and co-writer Michael can make some money!)
Maybe it's a matter of timing - of having the right person hear you...of producing the right material... at just the right time.
Maybe it's just that he hasn't promoted himself enough. I've gotten to know Shake enough lately that I can see what a gentle spirit he has. I know the part I hate most about writing is sending out queries, pieces of my writing, like bait on a fishing pole, hoping someone will bite and I'll reel in the big one.
That only happens if you put your hook in the water, though, and for some of us, it's tough. We don't like fishing - we hope someone else mans the pole so we can spend our time writing, not promoting ourselves. Maybe we're just afraid nothing will ever bite, so we're afraid to cast that line to begin with...
If we can't promote ourselves, though...if we don't believe in ourselves and our gifts...how can we expect anyone else to?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?”
Shake is still young enough - I think his time is coming. Maybe it's all going to come together soon for him. I hope so.
I've been in a bit of a slump myself - even this post has been tough, sorting my thoughts, trying to get my words right. Maybe it's from not having as much time as I'd like to devote to it, split between my book and work and life. Maybe I'm just tired. Last night I chose working on my book and sleeping...tonight I'm determined to finish this one and move on.
It makes it easy for those renegade thoughts to slip in...it's all a waste of time, but underneath, I can hear this other voice telling me to keep going.
"We must travel in the direction of our fear." ~ John Berryman
Someone posted that one on Facebook last week. John didn't explain why we needed to do this, but I suspect it has to do with either growing stronger or getting lost and fading away.
Inspirational quotes keep popping out at me, encouraging me. Tom and I stopped at Panda Express Sunday night on our way in town from our visit with my parents.
"Discover the talents within yourself," my fortune cookie told me. It's pretty sad when your fortune cookie is having to cheer you on, but I do appreciate it. I take all I can get.
And I spotted this motivational speech on success by Kevin Spacey last week. He makes some good points, but in other spots gets a little vague, and I'm not sure what the heck he's trying to say. If you have time, listen to it and tell me what you think...
Yeah, I think success and drive need to come from within, but I still think there are other markers of success, like enough money to pay the mortgage, and ward off worry for when you're older. I think if you can make a living and pay your doctor bills off of your dream, that's success.
But maybe success comes before that. Maybe it's as simple as that point when you decide it's a worthwhile goal, worthy of your time, energy and lack of sleep.
Or maybe it's when someone tells you they enjoy what you're doing.
Here's another quote I came across last week. (I'm telling you, they were jumping out at me!)
There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change, until there is more time, until we are less tired, until we get a promotion, until we settle down — until, until, until. It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living.
American columnist, 20th century
I'm trying my hardest to live now, in this moment, every moment...and not wait for a "better" time...because, quite frankly, I'm sitting smack dab in the time I've been waiting for. Or maybe I just realized there isn't ever going to be any better time. If this isn't it, it's not coming.
I just wish it was a little easier... I'm really tired.
What about you? Have you started "living" or are you still waiting? Are you following your dream?
Are you successful? Please tell me what that means to you.
Meanwhile, here are some photos from Thursday night...
Dee (Shake's beautiful wife and my sweet friend), Debbie (from high school who has a beautiful smile even though she hasn't learned to keep her eyes open in a photograph...I'm not giving up on her!), and me...