Going back to my college radio days on the air at the venerable WSOU, I’ve been in the music industry going on a decade now, and increasingly, I feel like an old man. By and large, I’ve parked myself—with some success—in a niche genre in terms of what I write and I’m happy to have the opportunity to do it every day. I consider it a privilege, I really do.
And yet, walk by my office any given afternoon and you’re bound to hear me cursing out some random bit of bullshit. One week it’s someone who works for a label complaining about the picture we used of the band—it’s an older shot, yet no one sent over anything new—or someone working for some institution misrepresented in a column issuing demands about what I put in the paper as regards a correction. There is no shortage of it, it comes from all directions, and it doesn’t ever seem to end.
The result is I’m a bitter bastard.
I used to consider pessimism a point of pride, as though because I thought negatively about something, that meant I understood it on a deeper level than someone who “only” saw the positive or appeared to me to be willfully blind to the negative aspects. Sometimes I still feel that way—that only stupid people are happy, or that if you’re satisfied with your existence, you’re already dead. I used to think that gave me an understanding of life that all these sheep around me—these fucking morons—simply didn’t have.
While we’re on the subject of things I used to think, I used to think I was bitter, but in addition to all that other stuff, I was wrong about that too. I wasn’t bitter, I was angry. As a young person, you can’t be bitter, because like with rotten fruit, bitter comes with age. You can be pissed off—as I was and more often than not still am—but bitter is different. Bitter is what comes after that. Bitter is what you feel when even the anger feels pointless, and you know it’s pointless, but you stick with it anyway, either out of habit, or because it’s all you know, or maybe you don’t even care anymore and it’s just easier. The end is always the same, because you make it that way.
Today, which was Sunday, I drove five hours out to Long Island and back to practice with a band. We’re not much to speak of yet, it was only my second time out there, and only our bassist’s first, and the songs are just starting to come together. It was my whole day, and on any level you look at it, it was the wrong decision. Wrong because it kept me from work I could and should have been doing, because it took me away from my family, and on the most basic level, wrong because now I’m going to be even more tired than I normally would have been going into Monday morning having stayed up late to work on Deleted Scenes.
I knew it was the wrong choice when I made it, when I told those guys yes, when I said Sunday worked, but I did it anyway, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this bizarre, sometimes wonderful and occasionally horrific decade I’ve spent surrounded by music, it’s that you have to hold onto these passions, because they’re the only things that will carry you through the rest of it. They’re all you’ve got, and if you’re lucky enough to still have them, to be able to single them out and identify them and say, “Yes, this is the thing,” then it’s not even a choice.
Because here’s the fact of the matter: The petty bullshit that exists outside of that perfect moment of indulgence? That doesn’t stop. That’s life. All those times you have to look around yourself and wonder if you ever made it out of sixth grade? And it’s your friends, your classmates, your coworkers, your loved ones, your family on the other end of it? That doesn’t ever go anywhere. It is constant. It. Will. Not. End.
So make the best of what you can and damn the rest.