Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stiffed

You can do everything right and still get shafted. At the end of the day, you can only do your best - the rest is up to the Universe. It's not a guarantee - only a heightened probability.

That's the truth.

But we still can't talk about that in this country. You'd rather blather on about karma and your dedication to the cult of positivism. The Perpetual Salesperson.

These ideas that hard work and perseverance are keys to success are incredibly difficult to dispel. Deeply rooted in assumptions about Karma (who's universal implications are in no way supported by empirical sciences) and an apocalyptic dedication to wealth (and its attendant implications). Ever read a press account of a lottery winner who didn't deserve their treasure?

We can't deal with randomness, so we tell stories to assure ourselves the world is unfolding predictably and events are knowable.

If you're struggling in this business, there must be a perfectly logical reason - so goes the thinking. The laziest assumptions will invoke characteristic traits of salespeople, and your lack of them (read: you're not nice.)

And that's really our central tension as artists right now, isn't it? How can I be genuine - how can I speak truth - when I'm constrained by a set of professional obligations to "lie with a smile?" How else can you explain the prevalence of MLM scams - arrangements who's central tenet is you never talk about being in on a scam (It's not a pyramid - it's geometric growth!)?

I want to tell you that ten thousand hours is enough, but we all know of someone that did it in two.

I want to tell you that your perseverance and dedication and endless nights of invisible work will count for something, but we all know there's a cute kid on YouTube who's going to be far more compelling for reasons you don't want to be honest about.

I want to tell you the cream (you) will rise, but the best I can tell you is it could, under the right circumstances.

I want to tell you the only thing between you and your destiny is you, but the truth is, blaming yourself is the easy way out. It's much harder to deal with randomness.

We are all trying to carve a life out of the dust right now, but we need to step back and realize there's a larger context here - a set of extenuating circumstances that are deep, systemic, and nearly invisible - an economic crash of global proportions, a real unemployment rate in the mid twenty percent, climate-induced political unrest and migrations, growing population of working homeless, etc - and we want someone to care about our music?

You could be doing everything right - and still nobody will come to your shows. It sounds so counter intuitive, I know, but it's real. You can be an abusive spouse or a child molester and sell out arenas.

Here's your big insight: It's not up to you. The Universe plays a huge part, and if it shows up late or not at all, its not your fault.

The best you can do is your best.

0 comments: