Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Pang


I have to take a minute to write something today because it is written in my gut first and I know it will not pass until I've unloaded the words...

Spending the day at Lilith with Terra and Collette brought up some wonderful, challenging, painful and vivid memories of the feeling I carried around most of my post-adolescent years:

The Hunger.

From a young age my wonderful mother told me I was going to be famous, and sometimes when young ears hear an older voice saying something nice it becomes prophecy instead of praise.

I carried those words in my back pocket through school to get my B.F.A in Musical Theatre, to New York City with Broadway dreams and finally to Los Angeles where I set my sights on a career as a singer-songwriter....

After a particularly sad night playing yet another partially-empty bar I remember hearing the words, "You're going to be famous" rolling around my head yet again, a mantra. In that moment of utter fatigue and soul-empty pushing, they lost their active mojo and became a torturous dirge.

The Hunger had become obsession; it marked the next few years of my life - every tick of the clock meant one more moment I had failed to reach this nexus, one more view of my friends getting to the 'next level' (or what I began referring to it as: the Boat to China, which had sailed and left me behind) while I stayed on at my 12.00/hr reception jobs, praying to someday remove myself from the clutches of debt and get to that place that always eluded me.

Obsession eventually became too much and I tumbled into despair and finally Gave Up to save my own self.

I read books. I had tea with friends, remembered what wonder can be found in nature, in nurture...

It was in giving up that I began to embrace life in a way that allowed me to become a more visual artist: without the weight of my obsession for musical recognition, I could see the world around me with a poignant clarity that rendered everything painterly and things like tooling leather became such a joyful way to channel this new sight.

Yes, I still made music, did voiceovers and even had gigs, but my goals were no longer singular; they were many, like blooms on a rose bush and I carefully deadheaded and tended to this garden of thought and action until it became a shop and then two and now lapidary and soon engraving and on and on, a joy.
An utter joy!

So when I go see musicians at the top of their game playing and enjoying their own garden it makes me smile, makes me feel like all is right with the world

but

somewhere, a little to the left behind a great wall of mist there she is:

the dreaded Boat to China.

I laugh at the imagery, because it is patently ridiculous and no less painful for its silly humor: it is the ghost of a dream I let sail so that my real life could thrive.

It is the advertising career that haunts a new mother as she sees her life filling with diapers and playdates...

The stock market ticker on TV that brings gloom to the handsome carpenter who gave up Wall Street after too many stress-induced trips to the doctor some years ago....

It is the common thread in so many lives, subtle regrets and what-ifs that show up at random moments enticing us with the thought that we could rally again and get back on that boat....

Life is long and possibilities endless. I know there is more music to be made: heavens, I have two weddings and two gigs coming up in the next calendar month alone and I continue to write songs in bits, a recovery of sorts after the quiet of the past year, and I will continue to put out cds and tour when the time is right....

but for now I am allowing the feeling of ache to rest here in me until it passes naturally, letting my open and receptive heart be its harbor until it fades out of sight of its own accord,

sails and all.

Love you,
Allison


14 comments:

genie marie said...

Most eloquently said...

susie said...

Oh, how I understand. The book that doesn't get written, the degree that wasn't completed. Don't we all have a little hunger that burns a fire in our collective bellies? The trick, like you so eloquently stated, is not to get consumed by that fire but rather be warmed by its possibilities.

UmberDove said...

oh girl.






Somedays (TODAY) I laugh because my only other option is to cry over those [un]laughable matters.

resolute twig said...

beautifully said.
and you are not alone...

CrowNology said...

Oh but you are famous!
It just depends on how BIG you wish to be...
To me YOU are the perfect size. :)
The first time ever I saw you was on video on the internet showing your creative genius and inspiring others...Imagine that. Not many of the worlds population get to reach into hearts and minds and INSPIRE...Without having to become something other than what you are right now...
I hope you get all that you wish for and also wish you happiness whatever the future brings...
xo
Andrea

Good Girls Studio said...

You are famous! I was playing your Cd in my car & my niece (who's 12 btw) goes "Oh I love that song" & starts belting out one of your tunes! Said she found you on myspace :)

Fame is relative, yes? Still painful when where you're at is not quite where you thought you'd be! Praying for fruition of your dreams my dear one!

{hugs}

she said...

what a bold but graceful way to put things. have been thinking a lot lately about being the type of person who can truly celebrate others' success and talents. it's difficult but a worthwhile goal in my mind. and i think these things go hand in hand: being able to truly celebrate one's own gifts (even if they are different from someone else's) and witnessing another person being celebrated. what beautiful things to strive for! thank you for sharing this.

The Noisy Plume: said...

Love you baby sugar cakes...you're not the only one who has missed some sort of boat going somewhere...you're not alone.




You'll ALWAYS be at the top of MY charts:)
xxxxxx

Brooke said...

Oh, Allison.


I definitely know how you feel. A big breakup (which lead to a just-now-lifting depression) has made me feel, often, over the last two years, that my own boat has sailed, that I've fallen behind, that others have passed me and I'll never, ever catch up.

It does ache. It's okay to feel sad. But you ARE pretty damn amazing and inspiring right now, missed boat or no. :)

kitkat said...

Sometimes what you think you will be famous or successful at isn't the direction your life takes. Life experiences and choices leads you down another path and maybe you will be known for something else you do beautifully. You are incredibly talented at so many things and the unlocking of your talents has just begun.

westbyron said...

Allison - this was really important for me to read...as a mom. We need to be very careful about what we say to talented kids of all stripes...need to help them focus on the measures of success that are within their control. Here, you've managed to create beautiful things, beautiful music, beautiful words that touch countless people...every day. Surely, pangs have their usefulness. But you must know how famous you are to all of us and how broad your influence really is.

ps - life isn't over yet.

Nancy*McKay said...

...your course is like no other's...your quest for a place in the sun includes lowering your mainsail...floating free with the currents & tide...floating adrift...under no control...& living your life multidimensionally...living it authentically...as only you can do...as only you are doing...xoxo

The Noisy Plume: said...

Nancy ALWAYS speaks the truth.

Sunny Rising Leather said...

You have all been so amazing. Sometimes when I write something so vulnerable I fear that it will be taken as being ungrateful for the life I DO have.
And you all saw the point of what I meant.
Knowing that most people feel this somewhere gives me great courage.
More than you could ever know :)

Love you all,
Allison