The Starving Artist Story
Good morning, world! It's Saturday.
This morning, I sent Rous off to go climbing with his buddies. I stayed home for a writing day, which usually means me drinking 5 cups of coffee on my couch while wearing yoga pants.
Since I was already wearing yoga pants, I figured I would do a little bit of yoga. A tee-tiny bit. Just to remember that I live here inside this skin.
I open my laptop and pull up my favorite yoga channel, Yoga with Adriene. I like Adriene because she's not fake-enlightened. Sometimes she accidentally says "fuck" during her videos, which confirms that she is someone I would like to hang out with.
Lately, she's been putting a meditation question at the beginning of her yoga videos. Today's question is:
"What do you want to attract?"
The word "riches" floats up to the top of my mind. I push it back down. I hear this inner voice scolding me, saying "Don't be greedy."
It's funny how powerful that voice is. I've been raised to think that praying for money is a greedy thing to do. Plus, everyone knows that musicians are starving artists, right?
The Story of the Starving Artist
I grew up believing that artists had to starve for their work and battle to make a living.
I thought that being a musician meant living in an overpriced apartment in [Boston/New York/Austin/Nashville], playing open mic nights and working doubles in a restaurant, giving away your demos to anyone who would listen to them, driving around in a beat-up old Toyota station wagon and voting Democrat and eating vegetarian and sleeping on people's couches and writing tortured songs about "the road."
I listened to Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe rants about record labels. I noted that many of my female folk idols wrote really sad songs about being lonely and unmarried.
None of this seemed promising. I didn't feel brave enough to endure that kind of life.
The Story of the Starving Artist was buried so deep in my psyche that I never even considered going down that road.
Instead, I went to college and got a wonderful liberal arts degree. I worked as an Americorps volunteer with the homeless. I moved to El Salvador and studied theology and volunteered with an NGO and became fluent in Spanish.
I worked as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Colorado. Then as a Medical Spanish Interpreter at a hospital. Along the way, I got sunburned as a lifeguard and refilled glasses of sweet tea as a waitress.
I did everything except pursue music.
When I was 25 and BURNED OUT as a social worker, I took a week off to go to a songwriting camp in Lyons, Colorado. I took the trip on a whim, and it changed me.
I came back ALIVE again. I started writing and uncovering a creative energy that had been buried under years of classical training and cover songs.
My husband told me I was glowing. He said "Keep doing this," and meant it.
I gushed about this songwriting retreat to my spiritual teacher/therapist while simultaneously venting about my "real" job. My teacher listened patiently, and when I was done talking, he said:
"Listen-- Our lives are so short. We don't have any time to waste.
So tell me, dear, why did you come to Earth in this lifetime?
What is your purpose here?"
I've spent some time-- the past 3 years-- figuring out the answer to that question.
I've been working part-time at a day job and playing music on nights off. I've been writing, booking my own gigs, asking questions and learning from friends and teachers who've been traveling this road for awhile now...
So, here I am, 6 weeks out from quitting my day job and taking a leap.
Rous and I are buying a Class A mobile home RV, moving into it, and I'm going to play music full-time.
We're going on tour for as long as we want, heading West this summer, and bringing our sweet doggie Molly along for the ride.
We're chasing his dream, too, of being the strongest rock climber he can be.
This is a leap we're taking together.
The other day, I was telling a friend about our plans and I caught myself saying, "I know we won't make any money doing this, but...."
Haha... WELL, there's that Starving Artist story again. It pops right up in conversation. I don't want to sound like we're dreaming TOO big, so I cut our dreams down to a more realistic size. I speak scarcity, fear and failure right into them.
But I don't think that old story serves me anymore. It's time for a new one.
I've been meditating on and praying about this, trying to bring intention and faith into the way I tell this story.
What if I change my language and expectations and see what kind of sweet provision unfolds before me?
What if I ask for what I need... and actually get it?
So here's the the new story I'm telling:
"I'm jumping into a full-time music career with my whole heart. I am abundantly blessed with everything I need along the way."