"I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as 'making a life'." Maya Angelou
Oh Maya, how I wish we could have a love child together who would speak words of wisdom to me every waking morning and lull me to sleep with lullabies of guidance and insight every night. Maya's quotes are endless, I could tattoo my body with them and still wouldn't get sick of reading them.
On Christmas day my family and I got in the discussion of work, college, life...etc. I knew one of the them would ask me..."SO what are you DOING now?!"...and i'd have to come up with an aswer that would please them. Since returning from L.A. I've been asking myself that question everyday, and looking for the answer that I think people will want to hear. People want to hear safe. Safe= a plan.
Nobody wants to hear, "Well, today I burnt 868 calories, because my goal was to sweat it out an extra 15 minutes at the gym. Then I tried some new tangerine tea, and spent three hours at the piano practicing my scales. After all of the that, I stretched while watching Oprah, lit my favorite fig candle, read 8 chapters of a new book, wrote a new blog, then... took a nap. It was a pretty productive day."
So even when my day looks exactly like that, I've worked on perfecting my pristinely calculated, vanilla answer. It's regurgitated to every relative, former teacher, former friend and strangers at Kinko's, or Starbucks who feel comfortable enough to ask me when "break" is over. Assuming someone is in college is irritating on many levels, I could be- learning disabled, a housewife dedicated to baking bread and caring for my 7 spawns, a recluse, a wildly successful business owner, or some super genius who graduated when she was 11 from Harvard and retired at 18, a crack dealer to celebrities, an internet sensation making millions off of my wit or my ass, a spritual guru training under the Dalai Lama. Or, hey, shocker, I could be someone who...just didn't go. But, those answers are unsafe on so many levels you could send a stranger into a tailspin of panic attacks and shock.
So my vanilla words go like this- "Oh... (insert charming smile here)... I applied to some colleges(this is true), i'm looking for a new job. I'm gonna work and go to school...I've always (making allll the emphasis) wanted a journalism degree. (insert reassuring "I'm doing brilliantly well, since leaving a whole life behind me and a few broken dreams along Route 66, smile here)"
The recipient lets out a long sigh. The sound people make when they're internally thanking the lord that this crazy gypsy girl, with an affinity for pop culture finally decided to wise up and stop pipe dreaming.
"Well GOOOD.....I'm sooooo happy to hear that." Oh, I bet you are.
My vanilla answer isn't a lie. And the answer isn't even a bad one. College is great, I LOVE LOVE LOVE learning, love classrooms, I love assignments and textbooks. But going to school for me has been something i've wanted to do for pleasure, not as a means to an end...the end being a safe job. I would love to have a degree, but I have never wanted my degree to define who I was, I never wanted my alma mater to determine the rest of my life. What most people consider a hobby, I consider a life, and what most people consider their life, I consider...something i'd like to avoid like a burning case of herpes.
On Christmas, my vanilla answer didn't come out. Have I alllllways wanted a journalism degree?? NO. Only recently has that sounded exciting to me. What I've always wanted, since I was 5....was to make music. TO SING. To be on stage and feel the lights on my face, and the heat...to watch the dust particles blur between myself and the audience, while I lose myself in words and sound. I've wanted to hear harmonies, and stand on different stages, I've wanted to wake up and write and go to bed exhausted and sweaty from living through every word i've written and experience i've lived and feel the satisfaction of having someone say, they loved my music...every night. I've wanted to see the world, and say "Helllloooo Cleveland" and "Bonjour Parisssss" or "Ciao Roma!!!" and then sometimes forget the city I was in and make the confession on stage so they would all know what a whirlwind my life has been. I've wanted to make people's ears ring, live out of suitcases, drink coffee with writers in small rooms with candles and persian rugs and record sounds of that exact moment. I've wanted to know everyday that this is my life....THIS is who I am. I have a stage to sing on, a band to back me up, (or even singing back up would be just as amazing) and a bus to catch. And the feeling of the lights, my cheeks flushed with heat, alone in front of hundreds of people....I live for that feeling.
But yeah, sure, I've Alllllways wanted a journalism degree.
When they asked me on Christmas...."What are you DOING now??" ...God forbid, I took the risk and said the truth.."Ya know...I'm not really sure. I'm working on music, and being patient....not really sure what's happening with me right now."
Discomfort was palpable.
"Well, ya know, eventually...you're gonna have to get a real job."
Like Maya Angelou said.....
"Talent is like electricity. We don't understand electricity. We use it. You can plug into it and light up a lamp, keep a heart pump going, light a cathedral, or you can electrocute a person with it.