So yeah. I mean, obviously I can’t read your mind and get to all the *real* reasons that you’d be wanting to move on, so I’ll just kinda riff on my experience and hopefully it won’t come out too narcissistic. I don’t really have time to write this down in a narrative fashion, so I’m just going to bullet point some of the thoughts I still remember from that period.

  • One of the things that I remember well is the space that was opened up in my mind for not having a clock ticking in the background until I hit the road again. I’d had that clock in my head for so long that it was strange to not have it there anymore. I imagine that getting out of jail must be really disorienting for the first little while.
  • An interesting thing - my wife and I had been married for a couple years and together for several by this time. We owned a house and had two kids now, but we’d never really lived together until I quit that band. That was a revelation that took some trips to therapy to reveal, because “things should be great - I’m finally off the road, but things are actually terrible! WTF?“.
  • I was also immediately struck by how I was able to form a bond with my oldest son that I’d never have been able to form if I hadn’t quit. The lack of that ticking clock also meant that he could count on me being there for bedtime and reading stories and all that. There was no more Dad going out of town for a little while. This was wonderful.
  • Along with this however came unemployment. I skipped out with an idea and a path to follow but not the means or skills to execute the idea, and my path was very high up on a hill from where I was at the time and required a lot of lost, spiritual bushwhacking to get to. This meant scrounging hard for freelance web dev work for the first year, and not making ends meet, which was brutal enough but…
  • Couple that with what I remember most clearly from that period. This was 2010, and a *lot* of people were out of work, so there were more than a few stories in the media about this situation. The more thoughtful of them described the loss of “identity” that comes along with the loss of employment. I can only relate this to my own experience…
  • Being a musician is a very monastic pursuit in that we feel it as a calling from a higher power to follow this path.
  • It is, at the same time, a very self-centered pursuit in that you’re basically going out and strutting like a rooster in front of a hall full of people every night and putting all other obligations on the back burner to do so. This requires pretty much total, all encompassing dedication on the part of the musician toward this pursuit. When you take that away (in my humble opinion), you’re taking away much more than just a job and a lifestyle. It requires a shift in personal purpose - a mental, emotional, and spiritual retooling that was the most excruciatingly difficult thing I’ve ever been through. Couple this with the job market in 2010 and I definitely looked back and wondered if I’d done the right thing a lot. (even though I knew I’d done the right thing…)
  • Also, like I said yesterday, the letting go of that dream was really, really hard. I knew it would be, but the difference between committing to and doing is just as hard as the other major life commitments - marriage, fatherhood. After my share of those types of commitments, I realize that there is a strangely dissonant mental space between making and following through on these types of commitments.
  • The gigging musician gets used to having people tell him how cool he is regardless of actual job perfomance. Turns out this is the opposite of how the rest of the world works. Removing this stimulus is actually a good thing, though. I wrote about this here - Pruning the Ego

I did a lot of yoga and had a lot of therapy for the first year because I needed something to hold on to. Then at this point, Tyler Grant and Billy and Drew basically saved my life by opening up that slot in ENB and then letting me fill it. My very first trip out with them I (seemingly randomly) landed 2 contracts and went from desititute to fully employed within 4 weeks.

Like I said in that post yesterday - it’s complicated. I knew at the time that I was making the right decision. I did not know at that time how long the investment would take to actually come back, though. This was basically hubris, but I thought I could engineer a lucky career landing since I’d lived an extremely luck-filled life up to that point.

I’ve often considered this whole experience to be the actual transition to adulthood for me.

So this is not the cheeriest summary, right? But this was mostly the wartime account, which you’d expect to be burly. After that year, things started steadily improving.

  • I found plenty of work once I actually learned enough about my new trade.
  • We had #3 in 2012, shortly before ENB began to wind back down.
  • I took a full time job, my first ever, in late 2012 because the pressure of working for myself while supporting a family of 5 was just a bit much. It felt sad at the time, but this job has turned out to largely be the team experience I always longed for in RRE, and I’d consider the past 2 years to be as fruitful a creative period as any I’ve ever had. I’m just not on a stage doing it. Rather, the stage is different and I don’t have to pack up every night.
  • I’m making grownup money now, which changes your outlook on life in a really crazy way when you don’t have to constantly choose between paying the power bill and buying groceries.
  • I have a really amazing relationship with my wife now, and I can tell you for a fact that we could not have gotten to this place with my still being in that situation.
  • I have 3 of the coolest little boys, and I don’t ever have to tell them I won’t be home for a little while.
  • I’m happy now. Even though it was fun, I was not happy then.
  • I always knew that I didn’t want to be on the road forever, but exact how to accomplish that didn’t reveal itself to me until shortly before I began this blog (6 years ago now).

In short, the investment that I viewed it as at the time didn’t work out *how* or *when* I wanted it to at the time, but that’s the great thing about life. It has more than worked out - it has come back big time. These subtleties and complexities are what makes life what it is, yknow? Perhaps this is why so many people just keep on doing what they always do, whether they’re happy with it or not. It also makes it hard to sum up in a Facebook post.

I salute you though, and anyone who decides to change something they’re not at peace with. Please reach out if you ever want to.