Like Newton's Apple, gravity just is. What goes up will come down. Everything falls. Your face will fall, the leaves will fall, buildings will crumble and no matter what you do in your life, for every high, there will be a low.
That's why it's important to keep working. That's why it's important to keep putting forth your best effort. That's why it's imperative to stay hungry. You've got to keep aiming for those high points; otherwise you're just falling.
I worry sometimes though; that in those high moments we get so caught up in the success or social status of it all that we forget to be appreciative of what we worked so hard for in the first place.
I live in Nashville and we just had our awards season. We had the Americana Music Awards, The International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, The Country Music Hall of Fame induction and of course the CMA's, just to name a few. When you live and work in Nashville like I do, not only do you get a front row seat to some of the most amazing talent ever gathered, but you get a behind the scenes seat to some of the biggest ego trips you can comprehend.
Now I love a shit show just like the next guy, but there is something deeply upsetting to me about the fact that these are people who worked their ass off to get where they are. I know, we all like to sit at home and think, "Gosh, they are so lucky". But it's not true; most people are just not that lucky. If you are successful in an industry like the music business or the entertainment industry, then you probably worked your ass off. Even if you came in with fistfuls of money, you still probably worked your ass off.
You spent months or years on the road; you got up early and did interviews, and press junkets. You waded through bad management and shitty booking agents. You spent every penny you had and weeks in recording studios to make records, and then sold them out of the back of your car or van to anyone with a $5 dollar bill. You got taken advantage of and ripped off. You built fan bases and lost sleep and worked right through jet lag and who can count how many head colds and back aches. You got told "no" more times than you can count. You played for rooms with no one, or worse, you got booed and heckled. Let's not even get into the toll that giving your life to this thing took on your relationships.
But you are one of the few who never gave up and now there you are, standing on a stage where a jury of your peers is clapping for you.
How anyone can be anything but humbled in that moment is unfathomable to me. But trust me when I say that there is a small percentage that are. They are more concerned about their green room and guest list. They are bored and tired and would rather be doing something else. They snicker and laugh at people behind their back. They treat everyone like they are "the help," nothing is good enough and everything is about them; the whole damn world revolves around them. There is not one ounce of gratitude felt or shown by them. And it's sad too; because you can look at the faces around the room while they have their hissy fits and almost see the respect oozing out the door.
It's an entitlement issue. And while I just went on an artist ego trip rant, it is a problem everywhere. I can't walk into a place of business without getting the feeling that I'm a nuisance to the staff. The eye rolls and deep sighs I get if I actually have to engage them would be downright funny if they didn't piss me off so bad. Go into a public space like a mall and you're likely to get trampled to death without so much as a "sorry bro" as someone slams right past you with 800 Old Navy bags. Dating has become not much more than swiping photos on your phone. Hot enough for me? Nope. Next.
We've become a "me, me, me" society. All the kids get trophies. No one is a looser. We "like" each other on Facebook, there isn't even a "dislike" option. And I'm not saying that is an all-bad thing. Self-esteem is important, but our egos are out of hand. We live in an age where we are all just so fucking fabulous that not only do we feel the need to broadcast what we ate for breakfast to a few thousand people but we need them to like it too!
It's no wonder that people who have found any kind of success in life get so crazy. I would be crazy too if 20,000 people "liked" my cornflakes. Our sense of entitlement is so out of control that we've completely forgotten how to be appreciative. We've lost our ability to find gratitude. And we've forgotten that we have to stay hungry. We forgot about gravity and the fact and that we are gonna need all those people we pass on the way down if we are ever going to get back up again.
Listen, I have a huge ego. It gets me in more trouble than my mouth and trust me, my mouth gets me in loads of trouble. I've had my fair share of ego driven meltdowns and moments where I strutted around like I was the biggest damn thing ever. But I'm not proud of those moments.
I'm not proud of those moments because I worked really, really hard to get to where I am. Just like the music star worked their ass off. Just like you work your ass off. And when I show my ass and act like an entitled toddler, I throw away every bit of respect that I worked for and in the process I completely disrespect every single person coming up behind me.
When I act like that I am basically taking an opportunity or position in life that someone else is working their ass off for and flipping a middle finger right in their face. So I try really hard not to do that.
I try to take a moment every day to look around me and be thankful for the people and things and successes I have. Yes, I worked hard and yes I struggled. I fought tooth and nail, just like you did for everything I have. But I didn't do it alone. I did with the help of my family and friends. I did it with the help of my peers and I am grateful to each and every one of them. And I am grateful that there were some people and clients along the way who recognized how hard I was working and gave me a chance because of it.
Like I said, I have a huge ego. I think I am awesome. But I try not to forget that I am surrounded by equally awesome people who are also working their asses off. We are all just hoping to do one remarkable thing. Hoping for one chance to leave our mark. Just praying for an opportunity to stand on a stage while a jury of our peers claps for us.
I'm no expert in physics, but I do know this. The more gratitude I have when I'm on the way up, the easier things are for me when I'm on the loosing side of Newton's apple. Gravity is a bitch. And the ground comes hard and fast if there's no one left to catch you when you fall.
Epiblog: A place for paying it forward and supporting artists, entrepreneurs and people who inspire me. I hope you find some inspiration here too.
This weeks Epiblog is dedicated to Mac Wiseman. Mac is 90 years old and just released a solo record. He's played with Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame just a few weeks ago. At 90 years old and with an awe-inspiring career, this is a man who understands gravity. He understands that you have to keep working; you have to keep aiming for those highs.
I got the chance to work with Mac while he made his latest record and he was one of the most engaging, funny, charming people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. But the one thing that struck me most about Mac was his sense of gratitude. He was grateful to be there, grateful for the work and grateful to every single person around him. From the kid who brought the coffee all the way up to record producers and executives; Mac had a kind word and genuine smile for every person who graced his path. The record is quite special. Find out all about it here: Mac Wiseman on Wrinkled Records