I woke up in a panic, stumbling through my room, thinking I was late for work. I tried to pull my clothes on, until I fell on one of my boots in the middle of the floor. I looked up to see my cat licking her paws, unaffected by my clumsiness. Still hurting from the fall, I realized it was Saturday. I don’t work on Saturday’s. I turned over and laid there staring at the ceiling, thinking, not thinking, just trying to be there, but I couldn’t. A thought popped in my head: I remember walking home but I don’t remember actually getting home.
I checked my pockets for clues and I couldn’t find anything new, just the receipts from the bar the night before. I checked my phone to see if there were any late night texts to anyone.
After eating breakfast, I checked my notebooks to see if I’d written anything. I saw the hurried scrawl from the night before and it all came back in detail. Once I processed the information, I looked through the notebook some more, hoping to find any other new or exciting memories. One, dated a few weeks back stood out:
I know you’re uncomfortable writing about this, about any of this. I get that it’s all hard to talk about and I don’t blame you for tripping over your words. But I want to let you know that you’re going to be okay.
I know that when you were younger, you dreamed of more. You dreamed of sold out stadiums and people would be screaming your name. You dreamed that all the work you put in would be worth it. You also dreamed that all the people telling you that you were taking the wrong path would realize that they were the ones who were wrong. I know you dreamed that you would make your parents proud. I know you dreamed, most of all, that you would make your dad proud.
But life didn’t turn out how you planned, did it?
I know that you sit at the bar, drinking, thinking, and writing your nights away. I know you’re listening to everyone around you talk about their lives, ‘cause it’s easier to listen to their problems than it is to deal with yours.
I know you drink too much most nights ‘cause it blocks out the constant screaming. I know you were working two dead end jobs, and when you had time, you would take any paying music gig just to make ends meet. I know you’re working another dead end job that’s even worse. I know you want out, and I don’t blame you. I know school didn’t prepare you for this. I know your parents didn’t either, though they tried.
But you had to be stubborn. You had to find out everything the hard way. You always said it was a more effective lesson, but right now life keeps kicking your legs out from under you, and part of you wished you took a safer route – a better route. You think you’re capable of so much more. I know you’re frustrated and angry. I know you’re on the verge of giving up your dream, of giving up everything, ‘cause sometimes the mere thought of ending it is just a lot easier.
I’m not blaming you for thinking that. We were set up to fail, and though everyone, including these old drunks sitting at the bar are telling you that you can’t do it. They’re telling you that you can’t make a living from music, or anything else you love doing. They’re telling you that you can’t be happy and you have to settle for something less. That’s what they did, that’s what you have to do. I want you to know something: They’re wrong.
It’s been a hard day, and lately they all seem like they’re getting worse, but I promise you It’ll get better. Maybe it’ll take a few days, or maybe it’ll take longer, but I promise you it will get better.
You’ve seen it when it’s good. You’ve seen it, after putting in the work, that it all pays off one way or another. Didn’t a friend from high school who you haven’t seen in years reach out to you? Didn’t they tell you these songs that you’ve made helped them out of a tough spot? Do you remember that? Do you remember that he’s not the only one who’s told you this?
You helped someone! You did what you set out to do with music! Don’t you see? I know it’s not a stadium full of people, but dammit, Tom take a look around you. You need to stop looking at what you haven’t done, and start looking at what you have done!
I know you’re not where you want to be and that’s fine. We all need goals, right? But goddammit, Tom, take a look around. Kids you know, whether it’s an OD or suicide, are dying left and right. You only get a short time here. We don’t know what’s after this, but you gotta think: Right now you’re still here. You know you can make a difference. So, stick around. The world is more interesting if you do.