As we grow up and live through experiences, we all inevitably change. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
Sometimes we can develop entirely new branches of ourselves, discovering a new passion, or the opposite — a once prominent part of ourselves can tail off, go into indefinite hiatus.
It may never sprout again, or it might. Nevertheless, this aspect of ourselves lies dormant.
“Death Valley isn’t dead, it’s dormant”
I first began to learn how to play the guitar when I was 17. For approximately a decade of my life, music was the primary focus and creative outlet. I had a failed attempt at starting a recording studio business in my mom’s basement, I had a failed attempt at getting a “real job” in the music industry, I had a failed attempt at being in a band, but I did not fail at making my own music.
Between 2004 and 2010, I wrote 8 albums worth of original music. I spent over a year simply completing production on my last completed record, released in November 2010. I was burnt out and exhausted (and my life situation was not great that year either).
I took some time off, and while I did eventually start to write music again, after 2013 I stopped altogether. Up until Dec 2016 I wasn’t sure I would ever do anything musical again. I had felt no desire, either to write, or to record/produce. But then one day, I suddenly had this feeling that I wanted to try to finish the last thing I’d started — a collection of half written songs and song bits from 3 years ago. I knew I liked the ideas, the question was did I want to finish them.
My creativity over the last few years had been primarily in the realm of writing, and design. I’d even finally gotten into video production. That was keeping me happy enough. But as I’ve learned about myself, and this is also true of other people I know, desires can change unexpectedly and sometimes it’s pointless to try to resist what compels you.
Part of why I “quit” music was because I got to a point where I realized I was never going to get the kind of recognition for it that I wanted to, so I was only doing it for myself, and I didn’t know that I wanted to do it for that reason anymore. And so it was. Until I felt differently.
My life has gone through a lot of big changes in the last few years, a lot of instability and uncertainty. I’m glad that things seem to be returning back to a healthy and comfortable state, and I think that’s part of what sparked the change.
I’ve also tackled a number of bucket list items in the last several years, and the two most recent ones gave me very relevant perspective.
I had wanted to learn to perform some magic tricks, and I wanted to start doing gymnastics.
About a year ago, I scheduled a meeting with a magician and he showed me some simple tricks and the technique. It quickly became apparent to me that the skill involved in even doing simple tricks was far more than I had thought, and I determined that I did not want to have the skill badly enough to invest that time into it.
Very recently, I had my first session at a gym, learning some basic stuff, and once more I was made aware of the amount of skill required to be able to do what I wanted to be able to do, and the amount of time it would likely take to develop that skill. It’s not as big a gap as with magic, but it is something that is making me go “hmm.”
On the way home from the gym, I found myself thinking “I’ve already invested a decade into the music skill, I’m able to do what I want, how I want, already, and I enjoy creating music.”
I realize not everyone has a thing that they are really good at *and* love. I am more appreciative of that fact now than I have been for a while.
As I look at other items on my bucket list, I know a few more of them are like that — they’re things I feel like I want to be able to do competently, and that will require investing time into them. Some of them are not things that require skill building. I’m glad to have the perspective that whatever I try next, I’ll know not to expect satisfactory results on Day 1. I think I’m going to give gymnastics a little bit more of a chance than I did with magic, because I think it will take less time and is something I can do with or without an audience.
As for music, it’s exciting that the desire and passion has come back, even if only temporarily. After my last record, my next plan had been to focus on piano and write/record an album of specifically “light/soft” music as a test for myself. That never happened, and I don’t really have the desire to do so anymore. I still don’t know if I’ll write more new music after I finish this batch, but now I know for sure that even a part of me that has been dormant for multiple years can come back as if it never left.
There have been other parts of me that have been dormant for long stretches of time, and have come back suddenly and intensely, even if to eventually fade again. Now that I know this, I can go with the flow better. The only thing I worry about now is if I have periods where nothing specifically compels me (but such moments are rare). I almost always have multiple projects on the go.
Hopefully this concept gives you further clarity and reassurance about yourself as it did for me. I have learned I can’t force anything creative, and no matter what my plan may have been, it may happen now, next, later, or never. But no matter what, there will always be a next thing, and i’m fairly confident it will be something interesting and/or that I’m proud of.