Is That A Good Time? – Part One
I recently found myself watching the conference championships in college track & field. I know many of you probably find track & field boring and hard to watch. It’s definitely not for everybody. For me, however, it’s a window into my past. Years ago, I ran the hurdles in high school and later on at Southern Utah University. In fact, I still own the eighth fastest time in school history for the SUU men’s indoor 60-meter hurdles at 8.42 seconds. There was a time when I thought that would be the most success I would ever have.
Not long after posting that 8.42, my foolish youth led me into betraying myself. That actually sounds a lot worse than it was. My young adult rebellion was probably the most boring version of the prodigal son you could imagine. Whether you want to call it rebellion or just Peter Pan complex, it consisted of showing defiance by knowing I had great potential, but putting zero energy toward actually accomplishing anything. It was a strange combination of being self-defeating and narcissistic at the same time.
After about seven years with very little effort put into my own life, I found myself out of shape, out of work, out of love, and out of sorts. I also had plenty of “ins” to match those “outs.” I was intoxicated, indifferent, in the wrong, and in denial.
I am not telling you this story to gain sympathy. This is about overcoming obstacles or hurdles, as the case may be. Just like with the 60 meter indoor high hurdles, this story has five barriers that stood between where I was and where I wanted to be. Even as I’m writing this, I am surprised at how much my experience with hurdles must have engrained itself on my psyche and helped me find the drive that eventually pulled me out of my doldrums.
Eventually I realized that squandering my talent and my youth was not proving any kind of point. It was just setting me up for a wasted life. After finally deciding that trying and failing would at the very least be less boring than not trying at all, I started taking steps to improve my situation.
The first hurdle – A reason to get out of bed.
About a year before deciding to try at life, I had quit my job with the intent to remodel my home in preparation to flip it for a profit. I thought working for myself would be enough to push me. It wasn’t. After a full year of unemployment, I had successfully remodeled one room. It was the bathroom. When you only have one bathroom in your house, it’s amazing how fast you finish a remodel once you start it. Aside from that brief burst of motivation caused by nature calling, I barely got out of bed. I did master PlayStation football during that period, but I would easily trade that skill to get some of my time back.
It was a tough pill to swallow, but there, at my lowest point, I realized that I was seriously lacking in the ability to self-motivate. Without somebody holding me accountable, I was squandering my time. I needed expectations. I needed structure. I needed a job.
It took about a month, but I finally found employment. It was warehouse work, but it was exactly what I needed. Not only was it a reason to get out of bed, but it was a physically demanding job. I believe the exercise I was getting from this job went a long way to pull me out of my depression.
The second hurdle – Finding some confidence.
During those seven years of slothful revolt, I had often wondered if I had the chops to be a singer in a rock band, even just a local band. I had spent a lot of time playing guitar and writing “poor me” songs. I had even gone to a few open-mike nights. With my newly found spirit of trying, I decided to give it a real shot.
Because I had no idea how to be in a band, I didn’t want to burden an existing band with my learning curve, so I decided to start my own band where we could all learn together. After placing an ad online, I got a few responses. A couple of auditions later, I found a drummer that had enough similarity in musical taste that we developed a decent groove. After throwing together a few songs, we began booking any show we could get. I invited a few people from work to come see us. One of them happened to be a bass player. After a little encouragement, he began playing with us. The band was off and running.
On a true scale, we weren’t very good, but we weren’t bad. We could definitely hold our own with most of the bands we played with. We were good enough to book local shows and I got the answer I was seeking. I did measure up as a vocalist, at least locally. For someone who just a month or two before was measuring success by whether he could correctly guess the identity of the killer on Law & Order reruns, this was a big step.
That band no longer exists, and I don’t jam with those two guys anymore, but they will always be important to me. They helped me more than they know. Without them, I would have never gained the confidence that helped me with everything I have done since.
(to be continued…)
Check back later this week for part two, the final three hurdles.