It's selfish not to.
If you have a dream, talent, or idea, share it with the world;
It's selfish not to.
There will most likely come a time when you will have to make something from nothing in pursuit of your goals and aspirations. It almost like a rite of passage, especially for creatives, and is definitely not to be frowned upon. But once the quality of your work improves to the point where either you no longer need to, or the quality of your work is hindered by the equipment/materials available, it's only natural that you make accommodations accordingly as you progress. A few examples: if an architect constructs a house, but the only material he/she is able to afford is shit, it may be the most beautiful home ever, and is certainly by now means reflective of that person's skills/capabilities as an architect, but at the end of the day, the house is still made of shit. It still has less value than a structure identical to it in every way, other than the proper change in materials it was made with. Similarly, if you're a singer/artist known by everyone in your small hometown with a population of 200, with interests in growing, the next logical step would be to move to a larger market to present your work to more people, because the king of the hill is still only the king of a hill, not a mountain, not a city, not a country; their reach doesn't extend beyond that hill. Once you no longer need training wheels, you take them off, because their no longer necessary. Keep in mind that if you're not growing, you're dying. Assess your progress with a critical eye and if you see yourself settling for complacency well enough to tell the difference. Remember that things don't have to be the way they are, and that there is always room for improvement if you just keep your eyes focused on the bigger picture we discussed last week.
I've always liked puzzles, and board games whether it was Sudoku, a crossword puzzle, or chess. But I was never able to figure out the Rubik’s cube. In fact, when I was younger, I broke mine out of frustration. Not just taking the stickers off, I literally tore out each block so that I could see the inside. Now that I'm older, I know there's an algorithm to figure it out, but where's the fun in that? You know what's always peaked my interest? Jigsaw puzzles. Not the little ones either, I'm talking about the ones with 5000+ pieces. The ones that after you complete, you frame and put on display for everyone to see. No tricks, no gimmicks, no life lines, just you and the pieces. And that's when I realized life is like that. I ask myself "where would I begin?" Finding the correct 2 pieces to put together is like finding a needle in a haystack. So instead, I ask myself, "well, what is the bigger picture supposed to look like?" And then I look at the box as a point of reference, for guidance, just like I visualize the direction I want my life to take. And then I group the pieces together according to the image on the box, probably starting at the corners or the edges, which are more defined, and work my way in continuously until I reach the center, and before you know it, you have a complete, fully realized work of art. Although it technically never gets easier, it does become less difficult as you progress, not only because you have less pieces to place, but also because your vision becomes more refined in time.
I think about the style I've developed, my brand as a whole. When I first started writing at 14, I wasn't concerned with my style or becoming the best at what I do, and I didn't even know what a brand was. I just knew what I wanted to do, and my love and passion for what I do guided me to the point of my career in which I'm in today. But it all started with that first piece.
Sometimes we either get so caught up in what the final product is supposed to look like, that in our frustration we never start, or conversely, we get so caught up in the moment whether because of complacency, by putting things together piece by piece, focusing on one section longer than necessary, or making sure things are perfect before we move on, that we lose sight of the bigger picture, thus leading to complacency. There's no such thing as the perfect picture, but there is a such thing as excellence, and if you are to paint an excellent picture of your future, you must realize that there's a balance between the two extremes that must be maintained. It's also helpful to have a vision, or a mission statement. A little persistence and patience go a long way. Because how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
I've always had an uncanny fascination with scars, because each one tells a story, many of which are learning lessons. I remembered this especially last weekend at a Halloween party I attended.
In hindsight, it makes sense to me now, but I had never imagined someone would be embarrassed by the scars that they bear.
I view scars as a testament of strength, visual representations of what you have endured during the course of your life, and signs of wisdom, just like grey hair, because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and because we live and learn.
When people achieve success, the public only sees the success, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath that are countless failures, challenges, and obstacles we must overcome in order the reach success. The more times we fail, and the more challenges we face and overcome, the more deserving we are of success, and the more likely we are to achieve it.
The first band I’ve had the privilege of listening to this series is Tool, mainly because of the abundance they were requested in, but also because they are the only metal band I’ve ever been compared to, with the exception of Marilyn Manson, some years ago. I found it intriguing that they were once again recommended to me, so I took it upon myself to listen to “Undertow”, “Opiate”, and “Ænema”, respectfully, with approximately 2 hour intervals of nothingness between each to fully digest the previous, and was pleasantly surprised.
I admire their unorthodox experimental approach, and in conjunction with their dense, thought provoking lyrics, epic rifts, and vocals, provided a sound I’ve never quite heard replicated before. I thoroughly appreciated their energy, blunt honesty, and noncommercial approach, as none of the tracks seemed particularly “catchy”, although that didn’t prevent me from enjoying their catalog in its entirety. I can see a definite familiarity between their work, and some of my older work from “ASCENDING”, namely “Testament of Hopelessness”, “Shades of Gray”, “Eternal Darkness”, and “A Tale from the Dark Side of the Moon”.
My only complaint, if any, is that aside from the transitions between each track, and various themes (many of which seemed present in each album) it was difficult to note any substantial differences between each project, so I felt as though I was listening to one long stream of consciousness, rather than receiving each as an independent stand-alone product. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it depends on the taste of the listener, but personally, I prefer to hear an artist/band who is constantly evolving, rather than one with seemingly no/little development at all, no matter how unorthodox their style is. If any given track is foretelling of the rest of the catalog, what incentive is there to check out the rest? I’m not qualified with enough knowledge of either metal, or music in general to make this assumption about Tool conclusive, but that’s what I perceived. Or maybe I just need to listen to more Tool, which I see myself doing in either case anyway =]
My favorite album of those I listened to was "Opiate", mostly because of two live tracks, and my favorite tracks from each album were the title tracks, and the last tracks, strangely enough, as well as “4 Degrees”, The two live tracks from “Opiate”, and “Third Eye”. I will definitely be listening to Tool again in the near future.