Wednesday, July 07, 2004

How to View Life as Not a Waste of Time

I'm a musician. I have spent years and years studying music, becoming a better singer, performer, and songwriter. Sometimes I feel like I am moving achingly slowly and I wonder if I am wasting my life. In the past few years, I have become increasingly critical of my "progress" in life in general. As I have soldiered through my early 30's, then mid-thirties, now late-thirties, I have heard an increasingly insistent voice within me. It reminds me of all the things I haven't done yet. It reminds me of all the things it's too late for. It compares and judges and basically makes me miserable.

Tired of being at the mercy of this critic, I have developed the following view of my life. Each day that I wake up not dead, is another day I have to spend here. I have no way of knowing if I'll wake up the next day, so I focus on this one. And I think, "Well, if I have one more day to spend, what would be the best way to spend it?" For me, the answer is making music. It's what I enjoy the most and it has the greatest likelihood of making me feel happy. So that's what, for the most part, I focus on. There are other things that also make me happy, such as spending time with friends and writing this blog, so those would also be on the list of best ways to spend another day. But to keep things simple, I'll focus on music right now. Others have also told me that my music makes them happy which is great to hear, but when I look at my life this way that's just a by-product of me spending my time in the best way I can.

So I go about my life focusing on my music, knowing that it's the best use of my time. And it doesn't matter if others like it or if I'm accomplishing things with it or progressing at a certain speed. None of that matters if the point is for me to enjoy myself until the day I wind up dead.

It's a very comforting philosophy. When I start to worry, "No one's listening to me. My music doesn't matter. It's just a big waste of time. I'm an idiot," I pull things back into perspective by reminding myself, "But music is my best thing. No matter how the world reacts to it, making music is my best thing. It's the best way for me to spend my time, until I'm dead." And then the opinions of others recede, and I feel more peaceful.

Maybe it's the tunnel vision of an atheist, but that's how I look at things on good days. That's how I view my life as not a waste of time.

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