I love writing. But I can’t recall the last time my heart actually raced while I was writing.
It’s racing now.
I hope your heart will also be racing by the time you are done reading. And then I hope you will chase your heart until you catch up to it.
Maybe you haven’t even realized they’re gone. In most cases, these parts weren’t taken from you. You made a choice and you gave them away. Or perhaps you made a series of small choices over time; and in doing so, you gave these important parts of yourself away, but by bit, until there was nothing left.
Or maybe they’re just hidden beneath years of clutter.
The good news is … I’m pretty sure we can find them together, if you are willing.
As The Best Advice So Far has launched in earnest; and as I have been building my web presence little by little to get the word out, I decided to Google myself and see what I’d find.
Interestingly, in the process, I found several other people who share my name. Even more interestingly (but perhaps not so surprisingly for those of you who know me), I have been able to contact and connect with many of these “moniker mates,” which currently leaves me in the position of having several friends in my social media circles who are all named “Erik Tyler.”
Also as part of the search, I came across bits and pieces of myself that I’d forgotten I’d left out there, floating aimlessly in cyberspace. Among those were an old MySpace account (oh, the memories!) and some old tracks of my original music I’d uploaded to SoundClick. The MySpace account – alas, I deleted it. But the SoundClick page, I actually kept. While I haven’t yet uploaded any newer songs, I did update it. Why? Because it reminded me of one of those pieces of myself I’ve left in the past.
Many of you know me only as an author, blogger and mentor. But songwriting and singing go back just as far into my past as any other kind of writing. Maybe further.
At one time in my life, I was writing new songs weekly, even several songs per week. It was a passion of mine. I was at the piano or in the studio setting, creating with like-minded friends regularly. I recorded an album. I even began touring. I had dreams of writing something that a big-name artist would somehow hear, love and record. And I got close several times. Painfully close.
But here it is 2015, and I’m looking at the copyright dates on these tracks I found in my recent “search for myself.” Somehow, a decade or more has passed.
If you’re curious to peek in on this long-lost side of me (or if you knew me then and want to reminisce with me), here’s a song I had written as a gift for a friend who was feeling alone and hopeless at the time:
There’s lots I could say about this song in particular, but I want to stay focused here. Maybe in another post. For now, the question is this: why did I let this love for music and songwriting go?
I’ll tell you. But while I do, I want you to parallel think with me about passions in your own life that you may have let slip into the distant past.
In my case, musical friends moved away one by one, and I had no live collaboration any longer. Finding new collaborators was hard, and I gave up the search.
I’d gotten to the very brink of breakthroughs a dozen times – only to be met with disappointment. Slowly, I allowed myself to become jaded.
Just after my first CD release, my producer and record label owner had a baby and decided on a change in careers. He moved to Colorado, and just like that, my label was defunct and my booking and contact numbers were dead.
Then I was told I was “too old for the industry.”
I chose to let circumstances and disappointment and other people’s opinions wear away at me. I gave in to the voices that told me to be “realistic” and “practical,” and to focus my efforts on areas where I could make a safe and steady income.
I forgot the joy that songwriting brought me, in its purest form when it was just about the music. Then I began to forget it was even a part of me at all.
But can I tell you from this side of things how “realistic” and “practical” and “safe” feels?
Frankly, pretty rotten.
The thing is, I know who I am. I know what my passions are. And yet I somehow gradually wound up devoting more and more time over the years to things that aren’t my passions, and squeezing out the life-giving things that are.
Maybe no one else noticed. I’ve stayed busier than most. I’ve done some good things, and I’ve done many “practical” things well. But, little by little, parts of me were being left by the wayside.
Yes, I wrote a book. But I got so busy with being safe and practical that I let it sit much longer than I should have without doing anything with it. I started this blog in 2011, and believe it or not, I wrote a blog post every day for quite some time (I myself can hardly believe it!). If I’m honest, even my mentoring with teens and young adults, while always happening, has often been allocated to “the time that is left” along the way, rather than remaining the focus I want it to be.
The entire foundation of The Best Advice So Far is that you always have a choice. And I have to own that I made choices over the years to exchange the “loves” and the “passions” for the “safe” and the “practical.”
But guess what – I also know that I have a choice in the now.
And so do you.
One of the chapters in The Best Advice So Far centers around this advice:
You have to start from where you are, not from where you wish you were.
That’s some solid advice. It’s advice I wrote. But I chose to include it in the book because it’s real advice that I myself believe in. I’ve needed it many times, and it has always steered me right.
In the past few months, I’ve made different choices. I’m remembering what makes me fully me, what makes me feel alive. And I’m not just reminiscing – I’m doing something about it. I’m setting aside more time for the kids I mentor. I’m throwing myself wholly into getting this book into people’s hands. I’m blogging regularly again. I even have some fires burning again where the songwriting and recording are concerned.
What about you?
What are the lost loves that you’ve chosen to leave behind? The things that brought you real joy. The things that had you waking up in the morning with purpose and keeping you up at night with excitement, thinking about tomorrow’s possibilities.
Was it music lessons?
Cooking or baking?
Writing and sending encouraging notes to people?
Making time to meditate or enjoy nature in the silence of daily walks?
Painting or drawing? Pottery or sculpture?
Starting your own business?
Hosting dinner parties for friends?
Whatever it was, even thinking about it now, you catch your breath. You remember how alive you felt.
So, OK. Like me, you chose to let some life-infusing things go. You let work hours or discouragement or laziness or something else take precedence. Well, now is the time for you to make a new choice – to love your life again.
And before you mentally argue with me – yes, you can.
Sure, you’ll have to make some changes. You’ll have to choose to cut some of the mundane or energy-wasting things out in order to make room again for the energy-giving things you’ve left behind. But at your core, you just got a little excited about the thought of making the change. So act.
What are you going to change this week to get rid of dead weight in your life and bring back your lost loves?
And if you are living your passions – guard them fiercely. Be intentional. Don’t trade your passions for a purely practical existence.