Monday, November 29, 2010

"Busy Brain"

I don't know how it is for y'all, but my disease never quits. It's always looking for a way to drag me down: new ways, old ways, creative ways, subversive ways, bold in-your-face ways... One of those ways is this constant nitpicking that goes on inside my head. It's like, no matter how much progress I make, it's never enough. For every little victory I make, the disease tells me it's not enough. It's almost like it stands there in its jail cell and yells at me, "you're still not perfect!" A few examples:

Today, I finished up a webpage with an online store so that fans could buy my CDs directly from me. What does my brain do? It goes off on how hardly anyone is going to order them. It cuts me down, saying how amateur I am, bemoans me for being so small-time. I respond the best way I can, reminding myself not to listen to the lies, and that it's okay to be proud of what I have done. It's good to be proud of my accomplishments, and important. The fact that I put a CD together, let alone have it available for sale worldwide? Excellent accomplishments. No doubt there are people out there who can complete a task, and then sit back and be proud of what they've done. And I can get to that place, too, it's just not a natural instinct--I have to do a little work to get there.

Another example: on Saturday, I drove down to San Francisco to be my friend's escort/date for a wedding she was in. I spent the day helping out, being of service. It was a religious ceremony, and the reception was long. It was at a revivalist church, which is fine, but it isn't a way of expressing faith that works for me. But like I said, it works for others and that's fine. There was a time when I would have mouthed off to about how their religion was all screwed up, got in other people's faces about how wrong the way they worshipped was. On Saturday, I just sat and let it all happen around me. Tolerance. Acceptance. Just because something isn't right for me doesn't mean I get to tell others it's not right, period. But the disease in my brain had plenty to say. Even as I won the battle against self-righteousness, the disease took a new tack and thoughts of how I should be more social started floating around my brain. 'Talk to people,' it said, 'meet people, find some gal and dance with her.'

Last week, I was at a coffee shop, reading. A good-looking gal came and sat down nearby. Instantly, the brain was in action: talk to her, strike up conversation, don't be a chicken shit! As it turns out, she and I did end up talking a little. I invited her to play a game of chess. She declined, saying she was waiting for someone. I went back to my book. When I left, she gave me a cute wave goodbye. I tried to give myself credit for overcoming my insecurities and talking to her at all, but the brain was right there with the old "it's never enough" routine. "You should've got her number!" "You should have kept talking to her!" and on and on, 'should'ing me to death.

To be fair, it isn't always like this. And, in a way, I'm glad for the times it is. This is what it's like for those of us with the disease, always being on-guard against that hamster wheel inside. We spin. Sometimes we obsess over other people. Sometimes it's over events. Sometimes, like what I'm talking about here, it's an internal thing where the disease tells us we aren't good enough, that no matter what we do it’s never enough.

The truth? The truth is that all we can do is our best, and that who we are--just as we are--is enough. So what if I didn't get that gal's number? I talked to her. For someone like myself, battling insecurity, that's a battle won all by itself. So what if I didn't socialize much at the wedding? I was there to be there for my friend. And the fact that not telling others how to live is becoming a natural instinct for me? That's huge. Maybe I don't have legions of fans clamoring for my latest release, so the fuck what?! I make my music, uphold myself to standards of quality, and the music I make is damn good. I don't do it for fame or fortune. I'm not saying I'm opposed to those things, but whether or not that happens isn't up to me, it's up to God. I do what I can. I make my music as best I can and put it out there.

This is what the program teaches us: to let go of the things beyond our control; to change the things we can; to do our best and accept that as enough. It's a process, one of learning and of doing. Growth will continue, as long as I keep on keepin' on.

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