Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Self Defeat: Believing Our Own Lies

There is something in me that hates me. I think it might BE me. I think I might hate myself... well, at least some part of me seems to be committed to my own failure. We all have that voice inside of us. Not the one that says very quietly, "Go say sorry," but the one that says very loudly, "You are not important." Who is this voice? Why won't it shut up? And more importantly, why am I so quick to believe it?

I wrote a journal entry called "My Own Worst Enemy" a few years back, but it was more about my outward behavior than my inward struggle, so I feel like this post is justified as it is more focused on that lying bastard inside my head.

A few minutes ago I was inspired to write this because I was filling up my coffee pot at the sink and myself said to myself, "Our band is just one of those bands that nobody cares about."
This statement is one of many that have been playing in my head for the past few weeks. My mind tells me almost daily that I'm not driven enough, talented enough, capable enough or faithful enough to create anything of timeless value. Sometimes I'll fight back and say, "Wait a minute, I'm pretty proud of this specific thing I created," and then the voice will come back and remind me of every criticism I ever heard about that piece, and convince me that these criticisms are mostly true... and I believe it. I believe that even my proudest moment was probably not very good. If I combat this voice even more and convince myself that "Hey, you know what? It WAS good, I don't care what they say." Then this voice will tell me, "That was then, this is now, you're probably all dried up."

This damned voice. What makes me believe it? I believe it because it is me. It sounds like me. It's the me who hates me. Some more religiously charismatic than I might say it's the voice of "evil" or "Satan," but I don't think so. I think it's me, my flesh, a manifestation of my dirty human depravity. Plus, I think I've heard the little demon on my shoulder before, and his sales pitch is much more eloquent than mine. I don't believe him at first because he doesn't sound like me so he needs a trickier approach. I am quick to believe this other voice because it is my own.

So what happens? Well, after awhile you start believing your own lies, which all essentially say the same thing: "I'm not good enough." Suddenly, and unknowingly, you defeat yourself. Has anything positive come from guilt and shame? Has any life flourished after believing that it was worthless? The only thing left after believing our own lies is our own defeat. 

We humans are built to withstand so much, pressing on at the top of the food chain for thousands of years, so it's true that the only thing that can stop us is ourselves. Our complex brains coupled with our innate desire to self-destruct can prove a treacherous adversary in matters worth pursuing. Nothing worthwhile was ever done without this nagging, lying voice shouting the whole way that it is unattainable, that we will surely fail because we are not "good enough." I suppose the best defense is to hear this voice and to blindly believe the opposite, regardless of the facts it presents us with.

May the Truth inspire us beyond our own petty defenses.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Record

I've been agitated lately. Ornery. I can work myself into a frenzy doing absolutely nothing. I feel a weight on my mind, and with it comes these pangs of doubt and worry and regret. These days I can find a way to stress and wonder and plan and curse my plans through any distraction I impose upon myself. This is all of course because it is time again to write.

It is time to write a record.

Record. Thats a funny word to still use as a noun, especially since we've never done a vinyl pressing. Alas, the word "Record" is still the current industry standard for the daunting and tumultuous journey I am about to embark on. Do I sound like I'm complaining? Sorry. Like I said I've been agitated lately.

My Dad is a bit of a genius nut. He has cycles, ups and downs, much more dramatic than most people. You could probably call him slightly manic, although he'd probably deny it as he most likely remains unmedicated. Sometimes I think I may have chipped a bit off of that old crazy block. Although in most ways I'm not like my Dad at all (he hasn't an artistic blood cell in his body), I think sometimes I can act like him emotionally. Which is scary. I'd like to think of myself as emotionally adapted, an advanced communicator, a relational problem solver... but really, deep down I'm just a nut. I smiled just now when I typed that. Honesty feels good.

Maybe it has to do with stress. I feel this thing that I have to conquer is in front of me, and I feel very alone on the battlefield. It's easy to blame my band mates for lack of interest, drive, growth... talent. And maybe they can shoulder some of the blame, but the sad thing is I can't sling any of that mud without getting a significant amount of it all over myself. I'm not as driven as I could be, as talented as I should be. I feel this thing that I have to conquer is in front of me and I am not good enough to conquer it. This is new for me. Talk to me five years ago and I would have said to you in confidence, "I would love to do so many things, but I feel really limited because of the band and our current style of music." Talk to me now, I have a HUNDRED places I could steer this ship and I feel like my arms are cut off. I CANT STEER. What happened to my vision? What happened to my confidence? I suddenly have all the freedom in the world to seize what ever lies ahead and I have this terrible feeling that I'm really not good enough to see it come to fruition. Is that truth? Well, from a spiritual standpoint I am enough because He who is in me is enough. Perhaps I'm not relying on that. However, what if it is true? What if I'm a connector, someone who brings all the geniuses together in one room and milks their minds of the good ideas - and then with that milk I make a milkshake that blows minds? Maybe my mind doesn't have the best milk. This could also be true.

It's funny, one moment you're on the road in a band thinking, "Man, what we could do if these guys let me," and then you're at home going, "WHAT AM I GONNA DO WITHOUT THESE GUYS?!"

And no, our band isn't breaking up. Not just yet. See the "Seven-Year-Itch" post for the prequel to this one. Long story short things aren't like they used to be, and we can no longer afford to have five full time members in our band. Which leaves me, the one full time member, to try to find time to write with the part-timers.

So back to my crazy Dad and how I think I have genetically inherited a similar cycle. If I am not surrounded by inspired, passionate people, this is the only way I create: Self destruction, creative inspiration, complacency, self destruction, creative inspiration, complacency... you get the picture. 

To simplify: Destruction-Creation-Boredom rinse, repeat.

It is so stereotypical it makes me sick. Artists and their mini-meltdowns, their flare for the dramatic. Yuck. Not me right? I'm different right? Maybe not...

Let me tell you though, I've got big plans for this next record. I have demos and I have plans. These plans will be hard to achieve. I'm just so terrified of putting out something that I'm not 100% proud of, I want to do it right. I want the right people involved, the right vibe, for the right reasons. This is a lot of think and to pray about. We could use your prayers too, if you're the praying type of person. I need wisdom for how to move forward, faith that no matter the outcome it will be Good (with a capital G), and inspiration for the times when the thought of this work sucks all the creativity out me.

For those of you long-standing blog followers, I probably sound like a broken record. There's that word again. For those of you who are newer, you can read similar sentiments in post from a few years ago called "Tapering."