November 28, 2018
I chose today’s title carefully.
If I wanted to use an uplifting song title, I might have borrowed Bon Jovi’s “Keep the Faith” or a personal favourite, “Keep the Spirit Alive” by Killer Dwarfs, but I didn't. I chose Journey instead. And it put a song in your head, didn’t it?
As soon as you saw it, you heard it.
Feels good, right?
The power of music.
But that’s just an aside. Today’s post is really about hanging in there. It’s my encouragement to everyone – and to myself – to keep going. Keep chasing the dream. Keep being open to things. Keep believing that you will find your way, your hope, your place. I’m writing it to you today because one of the things I’ve learned is that the best way to hold on to your dream is to encourage others to hold on to theirs.
Let me try to explain.
I’m still out here on the blank edge of things. There is snow on the ground. There’s a squirrel digging in the flower box outside my window. I’ve just come up from the morning’s drum practice and once again I am faced with this silence. Funny thing about silence: It can be peaceful or it can be resounding. My silences teeter these days. Sometimes the silence points a finger at my light schedule and tells me this dream of mine – this hope to play the drums and go deeper in music – is slipping away like sand in the proverbial hourglass. Other times the silence is more comforting. Today we have a mixture of both.
It’s okay to be anxious and it’s even okay to doubt. It’s what you do with those anxieties and doubts that’s most important. When the silence comes I could wallow. I could become bitter. I could give up, and on my weaker days the temptation is strong. It’s times like those that you need techniques to help you push through. As I said, I’ve found that encouraging others is a great way to do that.
For starters, it puts the focus on someone else. So many of the blockages and disappointments we experience – and the negative reactions they inspire – come from ego. This thing didn’t happen for me. I’m not getting the attention and opportunities I deserve. My work isn’t being rewarded. It’s egoic thinking, and some egos like nothing better than to feel offended. Encouraging other people re-directs that energy to a more rewarding place. To, dare I say it, a higher vibration.
Encouraging others also just feels good. Service is its own reward, and you get a taste of it when you give something to someone else. A simple, sincere compliment can have the profound effect of not only changing another person’s day, but changing your own. It can lift your mood. It can tap you into that higher, better version of you that is capable and powerful and humble.
The version of you that believes.
But how do you do it? It’s so easy that I can’t believe I’m writing about it. A comment on a Facebook or Instagram post works. Someone accomplished something? Say congratulations. Someone had a setback? Offer encouragement. Someone is looking for information or a connection? If you can help, do it. If someone has had a positive effect or influence on you, if you have been inspired by their work or story, write a personal message and say so. Take that person out for coffee. Support his or her work if you can.
Don’t dwell in your negative energy. Convert it. Change it to something positive and give it to someone else if you don’t know how to use it for yourself. Do it unconditionally. Do it selflessly. Do it without expectation of a reward or even an acknowledgment. Get yourself out of your own head and ego and see what a difference it can make.
Why, it might even produce a useful blog post.
So congratulations to all of you who are fighting the fight, doing the work, chasing the dream. I have so many musician friends who are putting out records and playing shows and dragging their gear through cold, snowy nights to do what they love. I have writer friends who type furiously away under cover of darkness after they get home from their day job and the kids are in bed. I know artists who just keep producing their work, even if it doesn’t sell. I know people who have started businesses and are giving everything they have to make them successful. I have friends clinging with trembling fingers to their sobriety. Others who have gone back to school. All of you are an inspiration to me. Your work will be rewarded in the end. It has to be. Keep going.
Maybe you’re reading this right now and your dream is hanging by a thread. I get it and it's okay. Use your fear. Make something beautiful of it. Give it away and let a more positive energy fill the space it leaves behind.
And don’t stop believing.
Oh, and if none of that works, listen to some Killer Dwarfs: