While we were busy raising our children and managing a teaching artist career in the schools, I continued to harbor a dream of writing and recording music for big people. Interestingly, every school performance we created was for progressively older children, so it makes sense that I’m ready to release my adult music into the world.
Ready is a flexible term with me. Some days, I feel charged up and powerful and I know that my music is good, some of it great. Other days, I feel worried and weak and I fear that my music is merely another guy trying to be something he’s not.
In therapy, men’s work and even on Facebook, I’ve received a tremendous amount of earnest support. There are a lot of artists who understand my plight and have endured similar transitions.
In this moment, I am moving forward with the project with a mixture of hope and fear. Two days ago on my 60th birthday, I wrote a letter to my producer to say, “Let’s finish this.”
Finishing means sending him a check for the balance and a few other chores related to making the tracks (songs) ready for release. It’s not much, really, and it could be ready in a week or so.
Look at that last bit – “could be ready in a week or so”. Can you see the gap I’ve created for myself, an escape hatch that I can use to delay this project yet again?
That’s two people talking that I’ve mentioned before in this blog: the critical inner parent (he looks like the referee in this post) and the scared little boy. Both are parts of me that are cheering for me to stop this nonsense and not risk rejection. I assure you, these parts are surprisingly adept at undermining my success.
Trauma, in Jungian terms, is when a part of us breaks off from the whole person. It becomes a Shadow that torments one because it wants to rejoin the whole, but doesn’t know how to do it except by howling like an injured wolf. This howling is the voice that I hear, the one that says, “NOOOOOO!”
I’m smart enough to know – and this is the Adventure calling again – that pain is just part of the process of growth, that my climbing a mountain involves huffing, puffing and maybe even some small injuries. I know all this and STILL I’m a big, whining baby about stuff.
Okay – let’s review that last bit “I’m a big, whining baby”. That’s called shame. Tara Brach refers to shame as “the second arrow.” The first arrow is the problem we haven’t solved and the normal feelings around it. The second arrow, though, is the one that kills many a project – the one that says, “you are not good enough. Give up Charlie Brown!” Shame.
Yup. There’s shame in the Peanuts gang.
Remember Lucy constantly pulling away the football from Charlie Brown? She always followed with some version of, “You are such a loser, Charlie Brown.” And, looking at his face, he half-believed it. Linus, his best buddy, always tried to console Charlie Brown.
In my mind, Charlie is my inner child, Lucy is my critical parent and Linus is my loving parent. The drama is always the same. In one of my songs, “In Your Own Time”, I addressed it in the bridge:
Some things won’t change/ Till you make a move/ It’s just like a phonograph/ Stuck inside a groove/There’ll come a time/ When the time is right for you/ And I hope you have the energy/For the things you have to do
This week, “the energy” was the love and support I received from my friends. It got me to write the producer, to sit up from my fetal positon and make the next right move.
Dear God, help me to finish this. Help me to let go of the inner critic that shames me and find the love inside of me that the inner child craves. Allow me to scream, cry or whatever needs to be done to reach the pinnacle that is completion. I cannot do it alone. Please help.