On Monday I put in a notice of resignation to the jobs I've been working this summer to meet my living/moving budget. That coupled with watching "The Office" on Netflix during my spare time has gotten me thinking about the whole day job thing, and what it all has entailed for me in my life up to this point. This very well may be the last time I'm in the traditional work place, and all the experiences I've gained have contributed to me as a musician, an over all person, and beyond. As far as my work history is concerned, I feel like I've done it all. Yes, music has supplemented, or even served as the bulk of my living, but there has always been some sort of other thing on my plate, from waiting tables, to sitting at a desk trying to look busy. I'm actually very thankful for my diverse employment background, because it builds on itself and has helped me land jobs that have taught me very relevant information about the world for my day to day life.
For example, as the receptionist/intern for the staffing and recruitment office at the Memphis Board of Education, I've been abreast of what is going on behind the scenes of the school system I came from, and the strengths and weaknesses therein. Memphis City Schools is under fire, but I can honestly say that there are good things coming from the board. We tend to think of teachers as people who go to work everyday not very excited to take home that measly pay check, or at least I used to, but teachers span from those individuals whose childhood dream was to teach, to kids fresh out of college searching for something to do with their lives and discovering a career they love. Despite the issues within the Memphis area schools, its teachers really do care, and this gives me hope for the future of the town I love.
Some jobs I've held, however, have been less than my favorite and reminded me why I tend to be a cynic at times. I'm not going to slander this particular employer, but I doubt anyone would enjoy the environment of this workplace. Sitting in a chair and staring at a screen for 8 hours straight (usually over night) with no possible way of entertaining myself without a scolding from the boss makes me praise the Lord even more when I think about what's to come for me next month in Detroit. When you put that with the nasty attitudes of most customers seeking this service, it serves as a reminder that a lot of people are just plain ignorant, and I'm glad I'm not one of those people. I've learned to have a deeper appreciation of a good night's sleep through this job, as well as for people who know how to communicate clearly, without fowl language and impatient attitudes. As much as the thought of doing a long distance relationship again kills me, I shout for joy when I remind myself that I won't be going back to that work place after much longer. If I could survive a summer at that place, learning a few excerpts and orchestral works sounds like cake.
During grad school, one of my work study supervisors after a long, busy day in the office said to me, "Garrett, work hard so that you can be the boss," and she's right. Hard work and a plan will get you where you want to be, but whatever your life goals are, the ladder may not lead straight to them. Sometimes you have to side track yourself so that you have the materials needed to build more rungs on the ladder, or maybe you just need a break from the constant climb. The journey may not even lead you to what you thought it would, or what others see as success, but keep going! My degrees, practice, and the non-musical side of my employment history probably aren't leading me to being the CEO of a large company, or owner of a successful business, but it's landed me a lifestyle I wouldn't trade for anything, where I'm, in a way, my own boss. It's tough moving to a new city alone (I've done it) but I'm confident in where my path has led me, and I'm excited for the new challenge. I must say, though, if music isn't my "forever and ever, Amen", I'd gladly go back to working with everyone at the office at USC, because I laughed daily, learned constantly, and created life-long friendships. Michael Scott and his crew at Dunder Mifflin have nothing on the fun we had everyday!
Andy and I often spend out late evenings in front of the television watching something on Netflix, and he is usually the one to go to bed first, leaving me to finish whatever mind numbing show I need at the end of the day. I'm always told to make sure I turn off all of the lights before I come to bed, and I do, every night. When all of the lights are out and I try to make my way toward the bedroom, it's pitch black, and I couldn't see anything, even if I tried. Nevertheless, the darkness fools me into thinking that the coffee table is in a different spot, or that the door knob had moved, so it's not uncommon for me to stub my toe or hit my knee against something on my way to bed. Of course, I know how to get around the house even in the dark, but my eyes play tricks on me that end in a sore joint in the morning. Over the years I've learned to just close my eyes and walk around like I know the place and trust that the door frame is in the same place it's always been, and I make it to bed unbruised every time. Last week while doing this I thought of how significant of an idea this is - being led astray, or blinded, by what we see.
A couple of weeks ago I lost an audition. I hate the word "lost", but it's the only term for it. This particular job would have kept me in Memphis, and in my comfort zone, so it was very upsetting for me to receive the news. I played well and advanced, but in the end it just wasn't in the cards for me. Having had a fairly successful collegiate and professional music career so far, losing something big that I really wanted (for the first time) left me feeling very mixed and uncertain about everything. Will I never get to call Memphis my home again? Am I not good enough? Will playing in Detroit be the end of the road for me? The feeling of failure and embarrassment overtook me, but I picked up the pieces and continued on in my practice and performing once I accepted the fact that no one wins them all. I suppose the little bit of ego I have wanted a blame-less slate, but I couldn't quite reach it. It was at a chamber music rehearsal the next week when I was reminded of why I'm doing this thing called music. Everything about being a musician feels natural, and I love it. I was blinded by what I was "seeing", when all I had to do was close my eyes and remind myself of the passion, drive, and opportunities that will always been there. I'm sure there will be other disappointments in the future - music is a tough gig - but I feel more prepared for them now that I have my first battle wound. I carry my red badge of courage with pride, and look forward to my next audition, which I plan on winning. :)
There's a spiritual called "His Eye is on the Sparrow", which basically explores the idea that if even a sparrow is watched over and taken care of by God, surely we are as well, many times over. Whether you're religious or not I think its all taken care of in the end, and that we can't be blinded by the circumstance we're in, or a loss. If we focus on what we see too closely, we'll end up stubbing our toe and falling over the living room furniture in the dark room of life.
A sparrow can't see the worms under the ground, but they're there, and the sparrow isn't blinded by the fact that he doesn't see any on the surface. The sparrow must leave the comfort of his tree to get the worm, and although it doesn't snag everything out it goes for, it will eventually have something to bring back to the nest. There's a lot for people to learn from sparrows. Don't be blinded by sight, but rather, see with the eyes that are telling you who you really need to know and believe in - yourself!