I recently popped in the Blu-Ray of Rush’s latest concert film - Clockwork Angels Tour – and I found myself emotionally moved to the point of tears during the first few songs. I wasn’t bawling like a child, but my eyes watered, and it was not an unpleasant experience. It made me feel alive and reminded me why I simply can’t seem to shake the dream of making a living through my music; it’s what moves and fulfills me on a level deeper than I can properly convey with mere language.
It occurred to me that this one of the reasons why there are a few on this planet who manage to make large piles of money through something that is really art first and a business second. Nearly all of us want to have positive emotional experiences; we want to feel. We enjoy being in love, we like seeing the underdog prevail, and we are conditioned to believe that if we work hard and do the right thing, eventually everything will work itself out for the better of all concerned.
Of course, things don’t always work that way. I don’t believe in unconditional love on any level, though I have no children. Some maintain that the love they have for their offspring is best described using that word, but I also have seen and read about plenty of parents who clearly did not share that sentiment. Besides, most relationships are doomed to fail, the underdog usually doesn’t win, and hard work guarantees nothing in the grand scheme of things.
But…we still want to believe. We still want something to affect us on a level that isn’t always easily explained. It can be a news story, a song, a movie, a TV show, a book, or even a simple picture. So, when something taps into that desire, we grab it with both hands and cherish it. Sometimes the appeal starts to fade. A movie can only be watched so many times and a song can be heard only so often. We need something else to get our fix. So we keep looking.
Revisiting something old can make it feel new again. That Rush film I watched probably won’t have the same effect if I watch it again tonight. But, if I wait say…a year or so, it probably will. We seem to be constantly hunting for something to fill the void.
Hm. Maybe that’s it. Maybe these things touch us because they provide something we’re missing. Maybe it’s part of a temporary escape from the everyday grind of life; a bit of a reprieve from doing what is necessary in order to keep food on our tables and a roof over our heads.
Or, maybe sometimes we really do get what we need.
I can provide an example. A number of years ago, my wife had what was really a minor surgical procedure. She would be ok, but it was still a stressful time in our life. She was in the hospital for a few days, and was in no small amount of pain. I would work, go visit her, and then try and keep my mind occupied with anything other than the worst case scenario. On one such night, I went to see the movie “Elf” with a friend of mine.
If you haven’t seen it, the film really isn’t anything special. It stars Will Ferrell as an orphan who grew up as one of Santa’s elves, discovers he’s not an elf, and then journeys to New York to find his real father. He eventually bonds with his newfound family, saves Christmas, gets the girl, and has a baby of his own. It really sounds like the type of thing I would normally avoid. But, here’s the thing. On that night, at that point in my life, it gave me exactly what I needed. It was the perfect balance of good heart and silly comedy, and I left the theater feeling good. I now own a copy, and the movie will forever be special to me.
If that’s the case, what void did my experience with the Rush concert film fill last night? Well, as I type this, I am again at a bit of a crossroads in my life. I’ve recently obtained an Associate’s degree and will start the road to a Bachelor’s in just over a week. My last temp job just ended, it didn’t provide benefits worth what they would have cost, and having to pay the premiums for a group plan from my previous full time job entirely out of our own pocket is ruining us on a financial level. Our applications for individual plans were rejected. Going without health insurance is not a practical option, and come January 2014, is illegal. There is no comparable insurance plan available through “Obamacare,” and the closest one in terms of quality is just a bit less expensive; not enough to really matter. My wife and I have been trying to find decent full time jobs for longer than I’d care to remember. I’ve been trying to break into the voice over market as a way of making some extra money, and have only managed to get two jobs that didn’t pay much.
You might notice a distinct lack of anything to do with music.
But, not all is lost on that front. As I type this, I have redesigned my website and put up a new batch of songs. I also just got a gig at a great venue in Madison; Wild Hog in the Woods. But, it’s not like I’ve ever managed to make decent money with music.
So, maybe seeing the Rush film served as a reminder that there is still hope, whether I eventually make it or not. Maybe seeing my favorite band perform some of my favorite songs was a necessary emotional slap in the face; a wake up call. I’m taking steps to provide a better income and life for my family, but I still need something that satisfies me on levels that nothing else can. Maybe that’s why most of us find comfort and an emotional connection to various forms of art and feel-good stories.
Because we need it.
Those who can provide it to enough people are able to make a comfortable living; more power to them. I hope to eventually join that club.