A Resolution To Steel My Resolve
I’ll fully admit to writing the title of this article and then looking up the exact meaning to make sure it was getting across what I really wanted to say here today. Turns out it was definitely what I was looking for…I wanted something that sounded like something I’d say but that really hammers home the points of why I’d say anything at all…to ‘steel’ comes along in verb-form with brilliant adjectives to describe its meaning like: insensible, inflexible, unyielding and determined.
2017…I want you to know that I am all of those words, meanings and more…you’ve been warned. Now that we’ve successfully dispatched your predecessor, I feel like we can at least civilly discuss how I made it through 2016 and why exactly I’ll be the same person day-in & day-out through the year to come. Because the tragedies, deaths, political malfunctions…you’ve had nothing for me that I haven’t already seen, understood or even worse…expected. If I’m being sincere with you 2016 – you should have wanted more for yourself; but you’re over now…there’s no 2016.2, no sequel…goodbye to you and welcome 2017.
While a ton changed for sleepingbagstudios and myself personally during the course of last year; what started with the unexpected blossomed slowly into the blissfully unknown. After moving from my home-base and studio in British Columbia and moving SBS to Ottawa, Ontario in the first quarter of the year and spending much time examining who I am, what’s important and what comes next…I came to a final conclusion and sentiment that I hope many of you out there will identify & share with me.
That conclusion is a resolution to steel my resolve.
As sleepingbagstudios enters its fifth official year as a valid entity that has purpose…as the clock ticked towards the coming new year I reflected on the journey it’s taken from then until now. In many ways…the highlights would be considered perhaps by many to be only few…whereas the stockpiling of failings along the way have certainly been noticeable, tangible and extremely personal.
For instance…along this pursuit, I’ve lost many people, family & friends along the way. I’m here today to tell you, I’ll lose more – willingly and enthusiastically. Along this pursuit, I’ve questioned my judgment and abilities a million times. And I’m here today to tell you, I’ll question them at least a million more times. Along this pursuit I almost gave up at least a handful of times in the past four years…and you got it, I’m here today to tell you that there’s a completely solid chance of having those doubts enter my mind again over the next four years to come.
But here’s the thing…no matter how this whole deal takes shape over time…every moment along the way was worth it. The few that stuck by my side during such a transformative time proved to be the best people & friends I’ll ever have – while those that abandoned me along the journey simply showed their true colors. I didn’t expect everyone to really understand why I needed to do what I do now here at SBS – but being truthful, I also never expected such a mass exodus that would expel all of what I’d known and almost all the people I’d ever loved or called friends as the adventure continued. I suppose most that knew me prior to the SBS experience figured it would just be something I’d start and finish quickly…that I’d come back to an old-version of me that was willing to settle…and that they could relate to. That person is long, long gone. Replaced with drive, ambition and sincere motivation to help assist the independent music-community…over these past four years I’ve also gone on to replace satisfaction for anything but. I’ve challenged myself in innumerable ways to become a better person – and I have absolutely no doubt that it’s through that exact same process that to many, I became ‘worse.’
Definitions, as always, may vary.
Worse for some meant that a reliable friend that was always going to be there, simply wasn’t anymore. Worse for some meant that I wasn’t nearly as lazy once I found my purpose…and that satisfaction wasn’t something that interested me any longer. Worse for some meant that the honesty they found in my words or voice became too real and too much. Worse for some meant we no longer talked at all. Worse still for some, meant leaving them behind forever as I pursued my own goals and dreams without thought or regard for others for perhaps the first time in my entire life.
Now…some of this all might sound downtrodden…like I have some sort of regret when it comes to ANY of what I’ve pointed out and said here…and I want to assure you it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Each time a person vacated my life for whatever their reason was…it was like tossing a lead-weight from a hot-air balloon; chances are I still like/love/respect them just as much as I always have – but over these past four years I’ve learned to smile as those around me faded away.
The move across Canada itself was about the best thing I could have ever done personally. For those that know the history of sleepingbagstudios, you already know the story…but for those that don’t – the long & the short of the story was that I had never once intended to be alone in what I do. I had grown up and become friends with such an AMAZING group of people, genuine music-lovers and some of the most gifted minds I’ve ever had the privilege to spend time with…and the overall idea was to take SBS as an umbrella to them all and create something incredibly special…because together, we could have done it, any time. And I watched with pain as the idea I had to house all my friends within this concept fell absolutely flat on its face under the weight of my conviction and relentless drive to make it succeed.
For you see…there are so many, many ways to tell a person ‘they can’t’ that we’re all likely to listen to that advice because of its sheer frequency in comparison to those that tell you ‘you can.’ One of those ways is to simply fade away…and I watched as all the people I’d intended to become a part of this along the way actually head in a complete opposite direction or outright turtle their heads at life in general. By proxy I forced many people to examine their own lives, what they were capable of and what they wanted to do with them…and as a result, many people I truly cared about became scared. Risk in life? Who would be so crazy to take one of those in a world so unstable?
This guy. Me. And as I watched nearly all of my friends/family lose their shine & uniqueness as they blended into the sea of sameness to a life of ordinary routine and mundane purpose – I also watched the parts of myself I had known the longest completely die.
I used to care so much about what others thought about me or how my own actions would affect their lives. In my opinion, now in retrospect – if SBS is only turning five this year and I’m turning thirty-seven – then that simply implies to me now that I nearly wasted thirty-two years of my own life worrying about security, stability, employment, relationships and anything else that could distract me from pursuing something beyond what people would tell me I could do or what I’d be capable of. My teachers throughout school all hated me collectively…the kid that floated through with C’s & B’s when he could have been holding all A’s. I was never interested in fitting in to society so much as I was into forming bonds with people and creating ways to trick life into becoming something I could stand being a part of.
Thing is…I suppose not even I expected to find my purpose…and for a great amount of time in my life I did everything I could to ignore its calling. After countless teachers, families and friends consistently informing me I wasn’t anywhere near reaching my full potential throughout the years as I grew up, I don’t think I even realized how much I had really given up overall. When the situation came about that my best friend had his own life ripped out from underneath him, I was working a job I absolutely despised loading CLEAN towels into an industrial-sized washer/dryer system…it finally snapped me into place as I broke down right then and there. Within days I would quit that terrible job of absolute nothingness and begin to start building sleepingbagstudios in effort to bring like-minds together and start a successful new chapter of life that would be beneficial on multiple-levels to all involved.
And I failed. I failed so miserably that the story of the entire details would be extremely painful to completely write out. It’s not pleasant to examine and the fault IS completely my own; I didn’t ask anyone prior to commit to the idea…I just expected that it would all somehow make extraordinary sense to anyone I extended the concept to…and that they’d naturally join in on the fun and excitement of building something that could potentially be a means to living a life that would contain enough joy to offset any worry or hardship. I knew it would require an insurmountable effort and a tremendous amount of faith – but I didn’t expect that I would lose most of the support from those I personally know after only less than a year in.
On the inside of that first year I managed to secure a loan & through whatever means, ended up purchasing enough equipment, materials and goods to properly put together a music-studio. I changed the physical landscape of the house my wife and I lived in, sealed off the garage and knocked out part of the wall to install a window in between that and the adjacent room. A control room and a studio…that’d be all I’d need…and just like Kevin Costner in A Field Of Dreams I was absolutely convinced that ‘if I built it, they would come.’
They did not.
Instead I watched as my friends would one-by-one become involved quickly into the project and then leave not just the studio, but my life altogether as sleepingbagstudios continued on. I watched many of them go to work harder, longer, more-physically demanding and less-satisfying jobs devoid of any semblance of personal meaning or ability to even put them into a place where they could find out what’s really important to them about life. Did it hurt? Yes. Yes…it still does in fact…and truthfully I don’t know that this will ever go away…that nagging feeling that it was me that left them behind and not the other way around that it truly is. I welcomed all with open-arms into this project…and more often than not I was kicked in the ass on their way out the door as they headed back to the safety and security offered within the known confines of the working-world. And I have some sympathy for that…don’t get me wrong; after four full-years in, I certainly appreciate that it’s much, much easier to accept a paycheck from somewhere or someone else rather than to create your own – I get it. What I never understood and perhaps never will was the sheer amount of dedication I watched most of them apply to completely meaningless jobs thereafter…like a direct affront to what I was attempting to provide for them all but ensuring they’d never have to come back and roll the dice with their lives once again. I watched as they poured all the effort, heart & soul required to make ANYTHING work go to the pockets of heartless corporations and dead-end jobs…probably the toughest thing I’ve ever been through. I endlessly questioned what it was about me that had become so terrible to work with that I sent all of my friends/family running so desperately in the other direction.
Some of you out there…though a rare few…some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. I believe there’s a solid chance that anyone that’s taken their time to pursue their dreams has likely encountered a pivotal moment or two along the way where they either had to give in or break free. And I believe that ALL of us out there have already been given that choice direct from life itself to either become a part of the machine…or build your own. Most of us…are not mechanics when it comes to the machine of life; we can drive forward confidently even in the darkest situations, but in any breakdown we panic.
Though I have spent enough time in regret for pursuing my goals & dreams in the ONE life I get to live – even that I would eventually leave behind. I had to somehow find a way to become comfortable with making everyone around me uncomfortable…and truthfully I still struggle with that. On the pages here at SBS, I’ve had the extreme privilege of basically working with thousands of artists/bands that truly want to get better, stronger, faster, more killer…people that have that drive and really want the MOST they can get out of the ONE life they live; and it’s been through that I’ve been able to be my honest-self and embrace what I can personally offer the world in terms of advice & guidance. It’s the same honesty that I employ here on these pages that crashed and burned every real relationship I’ve ever had more or less. We’re like-minded individuals here on these pages…and I’m forever thankful I’ve been lucky enough to find people out there throughout the globe that share my passion and drive.
Taking myself out of BC and over to Ontario…I had thought would somehow ‘fix’ part of this whole story. Being in Vancouver, surrounded by ALL the talent and incredible people I knew that could have been a part of this journey at any time and had chosen specifically not to be was killing me in extraordinary ways day after day. The original intent of the studio and its abilities to employ and satisfy the needs/wants of all my friends will never truly leave the sleepingbags that line the walls of the studio however, no matter where I am or where it is. As much as I thought there was a potential to be free of the hell of having so much talent around me go to waste where I could visibly see it…truthfully I also know it’s just not possible to ever break free of that as long as I remain a part of this project. Again – I had to somehow learn to accept that we all want/require different things as people…and also understand that most of us spend our lives scared of what could be rather than face up to the reality & rewards it could potentially present us with. I still don’t WANT to understand it…but I do.
And so it is, here on this first day of 2017 as the website/studio enters its fifth official year – that I am telling you I plan to steel my resolve further still…even after all I’ve experienced and been through on a personal-level. I cannot and will not allow the mediocrity of rountine, life & others to stem the potential that this independent musical-utopia has started…I haven’t since it began and I simply never will. If you’ve not been able to keep-up to my drive, goals and ambition for what SBS can achieve in connecting the world to music…chances are I’ve left you behind. I’ve left many behind. I will leave many more. I’ve made a resolution to steel my resolve and dig in even harder than I ever have before…because I’ve got ONE life to live and I want to make the most of each and every moment. Crazy, I know.
While I might have zero clue about where this journey truly leads…I know it’s been one worth taking. The love, support and enthusiasm I’ve experienced from readers, bands and artists all over the globe has certainly indicated that we ARE together as one…and that we CAN accomplish amazing things when we put our minds and focus into our art, careers, lives and each other. The best part is that every ounce of this place has been authentic, genuine and untainted by outside opinions from the moment it started…what we’ve all built here together between us is as real as it gets…and that’s never going to change. I have been extremely humbled by this project in so many ways – but I’m absolutely thankful for each and every one of them, no matter if they’ve been painful or not, they’ve been part of what has made sleepingbagstudios as strong as it continues to be today and helped fuel my own purpose in life.
I look forward to this fifth year at SBS…I feel like this will go on to be another year of intense highlights and defining moments in the history of these studio-walls…and I’m excited about that. I’m no longer fearful of losing people along the way…I understand now that this is simply a part of life…and that not every journey we take is one that we can count on others to take with us…and that that’s okay. I refuse to settle into a life of routine, safety and simplicity…I’m more than comfortable thriving in the unknown and committed to following this adventure no matter where it leads me. Those that want to be a part of it always have a place here…those that are on the fence are fully invited to fall-off to the opposite side; there’s no grey-area here for me so much as a beautifully vivid, colorful & detailed map towards the life I truly WANT to live…and the idea of embracing that is no longer scary at all, but completely comforting.
So to the many people out there in pursuit of your own dreams, goals and potential – I say join me in steeling your resolve…dig your heels right in and stand your ground on your way to doing what is right for YOU and the ONE life you get to live. You may lose people along the way…you might even lose parts of yourself in the pursuit of making yourself whole…but where there is risk there can truly be reward; only difference is that the reward can become so exquisite you’ll become addicted to it, like I have. If it’s a bad thing to be addicted to a life you WANT to lead…then so be it as far as I’m concerned.
Make your moves…do YOUR thing…and be proud of the person you’ve become. As long as it’s taken for me…nearly thirty-seven years of ups & downs…I feel like I can say confidently now that I am very proud of everything I’ve accomplished here in creating an incredible place that takes the time to acknowledge and represent the amazing work & creativity of others…that I’ve battled through all the people that told me ‘I can’t’ and shown them all that the ineptitude was always in their own mind. I’m proud to have shown many people that life does NOT have to be dull…that you CAN pursue your dreams and achieve the results no matter how big or small…and that they are ALWAYS worth pursuing, no matter how many people tell you they’re not or that you won’t be able to get to where you want to go in life.
Because if you allow yourself believe what they say, and that you can’t – they’ll be right. So don’t.
Cheers to you all dear readers, dear friends…I raise a glass in all of your honor and hope you will join me once again throughout a kickass year of music to come. However you make your contribution to life and those around us…may it truly be inspiring and carry you confidently through another fantastic year. Embrace your talent and allow yourself to be amazed at the incredible results you can achieve.
And don’t let anything, anyone or any situation EVER stand in the way of your dreams – because YOU have all the right tools required at any time to make those dreams a reality.
Here’s to 2017 friends…may it serve you well on your own journey to becoming exactly who you want to be, living the life you always believed you could have and truly deserve.