A dirty subject: Being responsible. part 2


Now let’s stop messing around and go into the heart of it.

Here’s a situation I hear about all the time:

The person, let’s call him Dillinger, comes to Chicago. He wants to be a pro musician. Only he has no money and Chicago can be an expensive town. So, what to do?

First he takes an apartment in a not-so-great neighborhood. Some parts of Chicago are downright dangerous, but he doesn’t really have a choice, does he? That’s all he can afford. So he parks the heap of junk he calls his car in front of his new place and unload his equipment. He hopes there are no prying eyes around. Let’s give him a chance, let’s say he doesn’t get robbed ever.

He goes into his place and settles down: bed here, drums there, done! He’s home! Harsh and raw, but home nonetheless. Now comes another harsh reality: no food in the fridge or the pantry. Dillinger needs a job.

Let’s suppose that he has no connection in music. Well, of course, he’s new in town, how could he? As far as jobs are concern it’s not going to be on drums or piano, it will have to be a low-paying job.

Now, watch carefully, the cycle is about to start.

The job could be anything, it doesn’t matter, it will be bad since it’s not what he wants to do. But he gets a free-be: his fellow employees share the same feelings about said job, and, bonus! they’ll even give him some dirt about whoever happens to be the boss. Dillinger listens and his feelings of disgust are now tainted with anger, then sadness, then, as he slowly creeps towards the completion of the cycle, he comes to the conclusion that life is unfair, that nobody with as much talent as him should have to suffer to become a musician.  The moth of hope he used to be when he made the plan to go to a big city, is transforming nicely into a butterfly of a bitter victim trapped into an impossible situation.

At that moment, although the psychological cycle is over, Dillinger is not done with discomfort because pain always calls for a release. So, more likely than not, Dillinger is going to medicate himself: video games, alcohol, drugs, reality TV shows, food, he’ll do whatever it takes to numb the ache. Now, he’s set for life. I know some people who’ve been in this very situation for the majority of their adult life.We ALL know someone like that.

I don’t want to portray Dillinger as someone who will never play music again. As a matter of fact, he can be playing with a band regularly, do the rehearsals, make a few bucks playing a gig or two per months or per year. That will not change his fate because he will do music in a half-hearted way, his head and determination will not be into it. How do I know that? Again, because most people who want to end up paying all their bills with money coming from music fail to reach that goal. But they do keep whatever job they have.

Where is the subject of responsibility in that? you ask. Easy!

Should you ask Dillinger why he is not a pro musician after 15 years living in Chicago in these conditions, he’ll tell you all about the rotten jobs, the demanding bosses, the low pay, the evil people in his neighborhood and the addictions he’s battling. In other word Dillinger will detail why he’s not responsible for what has happened to him and his dreams. That’s where he’s at in his mind: the world owed him a musician’s life and didn’t deliver. I feel for him. I’m a teacher training a lot of wannabe pros, of course I feel for him.