(Happy 11.11.11 folks…)
One of my greatest friends attacks his creative outlet with an almost religious zeal. He is a veritable inspiration. At eighteen he could hardly play a note on the guitar, had a weak voice and little sense of rhythm (sorry “TJ”).
Despite these dauntingly major hurdles, he decided he wanted to become a musician and so began his journey. He finished his degree then immediately went to work, taking himself to guitar school, practicing so much that he gave himself repetitive strain injury. After a year, he was stage-ready and started his first band.
He honoured me by requesting me to be the bassist, but I decided to start Blue Ventures instead. A wise choice in retrospect, but at the same time I will always regret not pursuing a musical career.
In the last ten years, he has progressed from a poor musician into a fantastic one. Despite a couple of his bands going by the wayside, he is now a solo artist (website here), signed with management and he’s just released his second solo album to critical acclaim. He is a reminder to each one of us that if you have the will, there is a way. His tenacity is unparalleled.
While I was in Berlin, he taught me another very important lesson – that of controlling one’s own destiny. Without doubt, my friend “TJ” is a remarkably self-sufficient soul. He can walk into a bar or nightclub and approach anyone without fear.
That might not sound so impressive on first glance – but think about it. How often have you spotted a person who looked interesting, or a woman or man who you liked and just walked up to them and said hello, fearless of the potential outcome?
It’s an astonishing power and one that is difficult to be around. As a more timid soul, it meant that I would regularly find myself being left at that bar or club while “TJ” disappeared, making connections, seizing life and treating the venue as if it was a house party full of friends.
For a while, I was frustrated – I didn’t want to be left alone. I got to the stage when I didn’t want to go out much because I knew it might be like going out on my own.
Then I met another musician – another genius – another inspiration (website here). He reminded me what it is to be fearless.
I decided that rather than shy away, or not go, I would at least try to match “TJ” – to be as bold. I had some of the best nights of my life. Suddenly a club or bar wasn’t a collection of strangers, but people I could meet. I felt liberated by the feeling that every person met was an experience – whether good or bad. In addition, when I faced the situation and just introduced myself to people, it was rarely bad…and when it was bad, it was more amusing than embarrassing.
After years of feeling that a situation determined my mood, I could eventually take things into my own hands.
I’m nothing like “TJ”. He’s still one of the most charistmatic people I’ve ever met – able to bound over to strangers and treat rejection as if it were a booster.
Yet I’ve made a slight shift. A step in a new direction – realising that my days (my days and my evenings) are in my own hands – rather than in the reactions of others. I have been handed a ticket to control my own destiny.
Thanks “TJ” – for empowering and inspiring (maybe forcing) me to realise what it is to be in control.