Life in Balance

“The truth is not that it is going to be alright,

the truth is, it already is.” (Frederic Evans)

So this has been a crazy couple of months. Ari (my bandmate in Snöbarn) moved in with me and my boyfriend in November 2012. Then I got a new job in December, which turned out to be a much bigger commitment (and infinitely more stressful) than I anticipated. My new employment also happened to begin the same week that Snöbarn launched its Kickstarter Project to raise funding for our debut album. We played 12 shows in 60 days; all while I was working 32 hours a week and fitting in occasional shows with The Murder of Crows and trying not to go crazy. Well, we successfully raised our money on February 3rd, and literally started recording the album the next day. We had 9 total recording sessions in February and March, from 8pm to 1am each time. Needless to say, I was tired at work more often than not. Meanwhile, I formed another band with Dan Dresser (The Getarounds), and we played a handful of shows somewhere in there. Now Ari and I are done with recording and moving in to mixing.  Snöbarn is starting to plan its CD release show and the Getarounds are preparing to record this summer… Anyway, as I said, it has been a crazy couple of months.

And I guess I am not complaining. I mean, I probably AM complaining, but I know I shouldn’t be. Life has been very good to me. Over the past two years I have forged new bonds with people in this community that are very special, and I have been so grateful for the support I’ve received. Playing this much music has led to new levels of creative expression and exploration that I never really envisioned before… But once and awhile you gotta slow down and evaluate: Is it good to be busy all the time? Is it healthy to be around people during every waking hour? Is it normal to feel overwhelmed so often? What kind of human experience do I want? Do I even get a choice in the matter? WHY DON’T I JUST MOVE TO A FREAKING MONASTERY?!?

These feelings too shall pass. Sometimes I am really invigorated by all the activity, and other times I want to run and hide in the woods. I feel like this in waves, which probably means that something’s gotta give eventually. Maybe I’ll quit my job in a year and try to make a go of music. Or maybe I’ll scale back music and just work during the day and come home at night like a normal person. Or maybe I actually will join a monastery. Who knows? There is no need to rush these types of decisions. The best thing to do is to try and listen to what my body is telling me and respond with integrity in the moment.

One thing I’ve realized is this: What you can and cannot handle as a person is yours to decide, without shame or self-judgement. I recently acknowledged that I need more sleep than most people need (or claim to need), and it’s just part of who I am. So while some musicians can play a late-night show and still get up for work at 8:00am, I cannot — I turn into a basket-case. So I only want to play shows at night if I can sleep in the next day. It feels oddly limiting to assert these guidelines, but in reality maybe too many of us are trying to live limitless lives. I am tired of burning both ends of the candle.

I am also learning to admit that I am not necessarily a MUSICIAN. I am a person who plays music sometimes. I love performing and recording has been a wonderful experience, but I also have other hobbies to which I want to devote my time, like gardening and writing and spirituality. Sometimes I feel inferior when I meet people like Alan who literally live, breathe, and drink music. I think that is a unique and wonderful thing, but I’d be lying if I said music was that much of a focus in my life. Music is always with me (I whistle without noticing it), but I am not always pondering it or writing songs or listening the latest bands. But to feel inferior to anyone for a difference in passion is silly. I can be a musician in my own way, and that’s OK. I definitely want to honor the gifts God has given me (which basically sums up the reasons I play at all), but I think that God gives us not only functional gifts (music or writing or accounting), but also gifts of grace  (the feeling of peace you get when you actually make the time to meditate). I don’t want to miss out on the gifts of grace because I was spending all my time nurturing my functional gifts. Life is not all doing. At least not for me.

“Be aware of the light wherever you are, and don’t wander off from the truth inside you. For even if you are convinced of the truth, you will be happy only when you obey the truth you are convinced of. And if you don’t, you will surely lose your chance of innocence and simplicity. Now you have time, so value it; this is your day of opportunity, given to you by God.” (George Fox)

And with that,  I am going to go. Maybe read a little. Maybe take a nap. Maybe meditate. And hopefully enjoy the rest of Saturday, free of worry and grateful for all the gifts I have been given in this very moment.




Author: violinscratches

Gaelynn Lea is a musician and public speaker from Duluth, MN. She is passionate about disability advocacy, personal growth, and authentic living. She was the winner of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest in March 2016.

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