Why Your Mentors Are Your Mirrors
Bringing it on back to “The Garden”
Just let me go, now let me go
Back to where I started
Just let me go, now let me go
Back to the garden
*Lyrics from “The Garden” by Gregory Douglass
Gregory Douglass, Category: Artist, Albums: Live from the Chapel, My Hero, The Enemy, Lucid, Battler, Up & Away…
I was such a prima donna as a kid. I loved to act, sing, create, direct, and star in my own home movies so I could be at the overall center of attention at all times. My favorite music teacher in elementary school actually took me aside one day and told me I needed to “tone it down” in class and give other students a chance to shine.
Apparently, my childhood ego was through the roof, but so was my self-confidence back then. It’s amazing how much as changed over the years as I have built my humble indie music empire. You’d think my self-confidence would still be through the roof after all the music I’ve made, but I can’t even say “indie music empire” without adding “humble” to it.
It probably goes without saying, I had a very different idea of what my life would look like by now. After 37 years of living and 10 albums worth of music therapy, I am proud of what I have accomplished on my own. But I thought I’d be more financially secure by now. I thought I’d be a household name by now. I thought I’d at least be more clear about who I am.
Can I get an Amen up in here?
I realize that I’m not alone in my uncertainty though. Nearly every one of my friends is having a mid-life crisis or transitional bout of some sort. There’s comfort in knowing you’re not alone, but it’s unsettling to realize how wrong we’ve been in thinking we’d have it all figured out by now.
I thought I had everything figured out throughout my 20’s as I was dominating the country with extensive performance tours. “24 shows in 30 days” was something I use to brag about like it was admirable to destroy my health for relentless ambition. Music was my livelihood, and it used to pay the bills through CD sales alone back then. (Remember CDs?) And back then wasn’t that long ago — I’m talking circa 2000–2005.
So much has changed today in the digital age and the music industry was one of the first to take a hit. Now music is virtually free for all, but the expenses associated with creating and recording new music are still substantial. I see a better world for the sustainability of independent creators, so I’ve joined Patreon in their mission to help fix what’s currently broken in the industry — a reliable stream of income for artists and creators.
I’m two years into being a Patreon creator. It’s been a blessing in disguise because it’s allowed me to create more than just music. The platform itself almost encourages multi-media content creation, allowing creators to make all sorts of things for their beloved patrons. And patrons get to be an intimate part of the creative process while supporting the creators they love.
The nature of creating things on a monthly basis for my community of support has also inspired me to revisit past interests. I’ve rediscovered my love for writing stories, making movies, and exploring music outside of my usual solo songwriting. It’s brought me back to my roots in many ways — back to the garden.
The creative accountability that comes along with being a Patreon artist has also helped me to change the stories I’ve been telling myself about what’s even possible for a creative alchemist like me. I’ve been hard on myself for not being as laser-focused on music throughout my 30’s as I was throughout my 20’s, but lately, I’ve realized that I’ll never be able to compartmentalize my creativity.
I think about who my greatest mentors are and why I look up to them the most. People like Kate Bush, David Bowie, Bernie Sanders, Donald Glover, John Cameron Mitchell, Bette Midler, Janelle Monáe, and Danny Elfman immediately come to mind. It’s a diverse list, but despite their differences, they all possess strikingly similar attributes. They’re all multi-faceted, multi-talented, multi-dimensional visionaries. They are all creative alchemists and they’ve all changed the world with their visions.
I mean, nobody puts Bowie in a box. You can’t. He does it all.
As a kid, I wanted to do it all. So I did. I didn’t even give it a second thought. I loved music, but I also loved crochet (lol)— and everything else in between. My multi-creative tendencies kept me inspired and made feel alive. I had big dreams back then, just as my mentors did.
Your mentors are like mirrors to your soul. They reflect back at you all the potential you have within yourself. Let them always remind you of who you really are.
And to all you fellow creative alchemists out there — keep on changing the world with your visions.
In closing, “The Garden” is a song I wrote for my studio album My Hero, The Enemy. I just released a live version of that album called Live from the Chapel that was recorded and filmed live at The Chapel in San Francisco. I wrote this song about looking back to our roots when we loose our way in life… Take a listen to the original version of the song or live version of the song if your curious.
Yours in music & creative wellness,
PS. I’ve got a whole riot of recorded music, videos, and articles to inspire you at GregoryDouglass.com.
PPS. Want to help me sustain all this creativity? Click here to become a Gregory Douglass patron.