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Dealing With Disappointment, Blue Collar Style
By Mick Polich - 10/30/2009 - 09:48 AM EDT

There’s a scene in the Martin Scorsese movie “Good Fellas” when gangster – who’s – crossed – the – line – once – too – often Joe Pesci is riding in a car with two older gents ( presumably, retired Mob men), to what he expects to be his ceremony inducting him as a ‘made man’ in the crime outfit. The set - up to the moment is wonderful, chilling,  and powerful – the two ‘old guys’ just appear to be along to support Joe, tell him about the ‘old days’ of running crime, and accompany him to the party. The car carrying these folks pulls into a nondescript suburban house – all the while, Pesci is extremely excited about his crossing -  over party – when all members get out of the car, go into the house, and walk downstairs to the party room. What is revealed when Pesci’s character opens the door, and we see an empty, paneled basement room, takes seconds and stays with you forever. Before Pesci can get out, ”Oh n –“, he’s shot in the head by one of the older, now - revealed hit men. Every time I watch the movie, I know, I know this scene is coming up, and it STILL gets me. Fast, and powerful….

Well, nobody wants a fate like Pesci’s, but we all get those moments when the build – up to something expected never delivers on what exactly what we want. For those who have yet to experience this, try a career in the arts!

Some days, we assume much will happen – if Point A connects to Point B, then SURELY we’ll connect to Point C. This can go on for a brief time, or for how ever long we have the attitude of disappointment, because we assume that we think we need to be somewhere else, experiencing a much ‘richer’ life.

Well, children, line your butts up at the door with the rest of the Every persons ‘round the world – unless you are blessed with a so – called ‘charmed ‘life (and really, most of us are, we just don’t know it, or realize it down the pike), you will experience failure, let down, perhaps depression, then the need to figure out what went wrong (if it did, or didn’t), and move on.

You know those ‘life coaches’ that say that 99% of a positive outlook to life is how you react to it? Good gravy, Marge, how could those clods be right anyway? They’re just telling people this b.s. to sell books, CDs, and DVDs on their website…..

Well, better start believing it, because it is as such, earth folks! To share a secret ( and since it is the Internet, I will confide in you, my closest buds, not to let the other people in the cyber world in on this, o.k.?), it has taken me to this POINT in my like to respect that  axiom.

Oh brother, Polich, what a waste of type – I can go anywhere else, and read this diddly – poo. Why, WHY, waste that New Agey crapola here??

Like I say, I’ve been saying this stuff to y’all out there, and not fully believing me until this POINT, so hang with me, and I tell ya….

The other day, after having a day that started out crummy, I decided to throw ‘oh-that’s-karma-now-the-rest-my-day-will-be shitty’ outlook to the wind, and try a social experiment . Instead of resigning to the previous memo from myself, I decided to move forward, and purposefully display a sunny attitude – as to not waste time with the other attitude – to myself, and others that I encounter. I had a perfectly wonderful chat with the woman who cut my hair (and I chose to have my haircut done by her at this time because I’ve avoided her due to a supposed short and curt attitude on her part – none was the case), then went on to chat up others at Barnes and Noble, the grocery store, and the gas station. In turn, other than what happened to me in the morning (which is small potatoes compared to what happens to others if , say, they reside in Pakistan or Iraq, wondering if there’s a suicide bomber waiting to start their day off….), the day went swimmingly…….

Well, hey-de-ho, Gomez, it really IS your outlook!

No kidding – yes, yes, I know I’ve been spewing my spiel over this blog for 2 ½ years  -  but trust me, as per Lucifer in the Rolling Stones classic song “Sympathy For The Devil”, I’ve had my moments of doubt and pain. I’ve talked about all this positive, re-invent yourself stuff, but it’s been like a balm, in a way, to ease some sort of pain and a bit of a detached outlook on my par. When something hits you, and you FINALLY realize the concept, well, it hits, so no ton of bricks required here….

The gig that is going to change our fortunes in the music business forever never happens, or the money that you were expecting from your repair shop, music teaching studio, or music retail shop never pans out, or you don’t feel you’ve gotten any respect, notoriety, or fame after investing your self in a vocation that’s been elusive at best for gainful employment – yep, I can cite friends, colleagues, associates, relatives, and most of all, myself, in all of the former. All of that stuff can be a heavy vortex that sucks you in until something desperate or drastic happens. Then what? Heavy depression, a piss-poor attitude because you never got your shot at the Big Time Music Career, or things have never really panned out in your mind to begin with - just what the hell is going on here?? Heavy drama, all the time – that’s your movie channel, sport.

First, let’s do some checks: are you breathing?

Yes, of course, what a stu – no, no, don’t go there. You’re alive, you’re o.k. Next, can you still think for yourself, in all fairness to others, realize maybe you’re part of the problem, maybe not. Then, why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it to make music, money, gain fame, set your foot in the door of the room marked “Notoriety”, and all of the above?

Hmmmm, o.k., have to get back at you on that …….fine, then…, are you at peace with yourself and your actions? You can’t make anything happen outwardly if inwardly, you’re not centered and o.k. with ‘you’.

Never really though about that – that was always something to think about when I was older……

O.k., enough two-way dialogue – you get it. But seriously, just because we’re musicians and artists, and we have this rep of being sensitive, flighty, ego-driven, and off in another dimension entirely, well, do we have to fall into any of those categories, especially if we’re not at peace with ourselves first? Isn’t it better to be balanced and centered first before you project yourself on others?

I’ve been trying for centering and balance for 51 years, and you know what? I just might be on to something now, finally. I think there’s been a bit of self-denial here, too – some stuff I guess I thought, subconsciously, that if  I mentioned in print, thought about it, talked about it enough, or explain it away to others, that it may or may not happen. This is with possible good or bad avenues. Gosh, what a release - and all in front of my ‘web’ friends, close and personal! Yikes - I was just joking, for those that didn’t get it (and for those that do, let’s move on to the next joke….)

Worried about not having enough, or losing the angst, guilt, anger, and depression that you think you need for your art? Oh, don’t worry, pal – it’s there, it’s ALWAYS there. I think the discipline is to call it up when you need it to express, and say what you want to say. Use it for the RIGHT reasons. Got examples? Sure, and they’re not all old codgers, either!

Revelations and epiphanies happen to different people at different times in life – I say if it happens sooner than later, well, so much the better. I was also a person that though disappointment and personal angst would come in cycles – if I went thru a bad cycle, or ‘rough patch’, then surely a better one must be around the corner.

You can’t time these things, kids – assumptions mean nothing.

So you’re depressed and moody to boot that you didn’t get that break, or that gig? Hey, I’m an ‘Artist’, so it’s my right, you say? Comes with the territory, right?

Get over it and move on – that’s really the resolution you want anyway, right? Pray for the power to change the things that you can. Believe me, I say all this for myself as well as you, gentle listeners, readers, and keepers of the flame.

You gotta grow up, and move on.

I’m in a lucky situation that requires a lot of planning and out-of-the-box thinking: my wife is an executive, we move around the country, so all the old school ways of getting to know musicians, get gigs, get music students, work on guitars and amps for a living – well, all the traditional thought processes go out the window. The music business works on many, many levels – I’ve never been to the top of the heap, even close, and don’t plan on reaching there any time soon. BUT, I’ve spent close to 35 years working on a craft, art, vocation, and life in music and art – why give up? Or better yet, why be crushed when a door closes? As they say, another one always opens.

Looking back, I could count disappointments that I’ve had in venturing into new areas of music, arts, and the business of both. I can see the lessons learned at this point, and they are good ones to garner experience from. And I ain’t the only one, folks – the engineer that writes pretty damn good country tunes, the housewife who sings with local bands, and hopes to get her music to a wider public, and the brilliant 15 year old musician who plays in the church band, and looks to making a go out of making music. We’re all here – seen those folks, and have gotten to know them on different levels. Enjoy your dream, savor it, gather the experiences learned for your songwriting, your art, your vocation, your craft.

Of course, this is harder to achieve when you’re trying to balance family – questions come up, especially if you want to keep your family in tact. In taking this gig, does my spouse and kids understand the time commitment? Do I understand the time commitment? Will this detract from my quality of life with my family? I’ve had to face all those questions, and make the tough calls. Of course, I’ve had hardcore musician buddies say,” Well, it’s you life, Boss, but I’m remaining true to myself.”  That is THEIR choice, too. I would suspect that disappointment on their side would be the loss of not having a family, or a stable family life (BIG dif there, kids).

The days of figuring that I’ll set the world on fire are over – hell, I would be happy with a consistent bar gig.

Disappointment sets in when someone doesn’t ‘buy’ your product – your CD’s, book your band or you, services for music instruction and repair – bummer, huh? Well, this is where it doesn’t hurt to have a little common business sense – what are you selling, and does the public want to buy you. Part of this is image – oh yes, oh yes, even when you’re not trying to sell image. Artists and musicians are notorious for playing the ‘recluse’ and or being ‘aloof’ – does it hurt to offer a handshake, look someone in the eye, and say ,”Hello”? Again, my Midwestern roots show through. During my sales/service days at Rieman Music, this was critical. If the ability to connect with people, sell, and solve problems didn’t show thru, you didn’t have a paycheck for very long.

Case in point: I’m on the tail end of two year long contracts with a local school system and a Big Ten university to use their logos and trademarks to sell some art handcrafts that I make. Now, stay with me here, because it all ties into the music thing. So far, more money has been invested with little return, but it brings me back to the art field that I chucked for music so very long ago, and that’s a good thing. I set two goals: one, make back my licensing fees, then decide to continue if sales look good. Well, so far, I’ve made back 1/3 third of my license fee on one agreement, and almost half on another (let’s not include all the time, and money spent on wood products, paint, brushes, books, and art lessons). I figured given the initial enthusiasm of the folks granting me the license, that I would be selling more at this point, and have more of a foothold in the thing. I had dreams of returning to the art field in fine fashion, abeit in my own little way. AHEM  - let’s check yo’ head, Chief. As is the case with these situations, the money is low, and I’ve been disappointed with a few maneuvers. But hey, I’ve learned a lot, and plan to continue and modify my approach and artwork. I’ve searched my heart, and have decided to not renew my contract with one school at the end of the year. People who really know me, will know which school that I will continue with (because they know that my fandom plays into this venture also).

You sweat and sweat, and spend the time, money, and skill, and sometimes, a dream is deferred.

Or is it?

Search yourself, folks – most of us are in far, far better positions to make a run at something that works for us at this point -  we are lucky to have the freedom to create; so many aren’t.   

Can’t always get what you want?: Try getting what you need……

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