This is a story about how I lost my mind.
I have, over the period of my life, had many brushes with madness. The edge has been balanced upon too many times to count, and I'm sure not for the last time. However, the madness to which I refer to here was of a more insidious, subtle nature. But even more interestingly, it is a common one, held by millions upon millions of others. It's possible that you might resonate with this.
As I was growing up, the concept of stardom was somehow intrinsically tied to the idea of being an artist. Being a musician was great, but it was really a step on the way to becoming a rock star. Being a filmmaker was cool, but you, everybody told you, would be the next Spielberg. Growing up in a family of musicians, the art was always put first, but my extended family, teachers, and the culture in general was giving me another message.
And so I began to believe it. Each song began to envisioned as being played in front of thousands of people, each film concept had to be of Oscar contender quality. It's hard to really unpack how much this actually effected my work and my life, because it happened in very subtle ways. Songs would be shelved because they weren't "good enough", film scripts were hidden away because they weren't of Oscar caliber quality in my mind.
Without realizing it, I had put another "God" ahead of my art. That God's name was "Fame".
Now, all of these years later, I've played in front of thousands and felt rush. I even get referred to as "famous" by some, although I personally find it a bit funny. At the end of everything, I've found that for me, an audience is a privilege, one that you earn by serving and giving more than you take.
Those nights on stage, playing to thousands? They were great fun. But you know what I always loved more? Quietly going back to my room, pulling out my guitar and finding a new melody. To me, that's where the God of my youth lives. In the quiet moments, when the line between myself and the art speaking through me is the least visible.
The madness that I gave into for so many years was the insanity of thinking that it wasn't enough to be myself without fame or what is known as material success. Of not thinking that my art was enough if thousands weren't queuing to buy tickets. Those were false idols and it's taken me years to see how misleading such thoughts really are.
It's not easy, and I can't say that I'm fully out of the woods in this. But I'm working every day to remove these ego based needs and to become the man I was born to be. I hope that you'll join me in such an endeavor.