Recently I watched documentaries on some of my favorite musical talents. The Foo Fighters, Jimi Hendrix, and Keith Richards are all artists that I have grown to admire throughout the years. Their musical achievements speak for themselves and I always gravitate towards their songs when I am in need of inspiration or a reminder of happy times in my life. But what truly endears me to them is how they found themselves and their legends.
I am in awe of Keith Richards’ dedication and mastery of his craft and it was evident when I saw him in the documentary “Keith Richards: Under The Influence”. His fingers look permanently bent from over 60 years of guitar playing. I am amazed by his luck in surviving unimaginable drug use and well, smoking like a chimney. But is it really luck? Years of living life his own way and creating timeless art have to be contributing to his relatively good health. When a person is doing something they love every day, it has to contribute to their lifespan in some way.
In the Foo Fighters, I see a bandleader, Dave Grohl, not only living life his way by creating awesome rock tunes, I see a man who is willing to take a chance on just about any project he is involved with and just rides along with whatever the result. His fluidity on how he approaches his life’s work is something that I admire. One of the best lines of the documentary came from him when he commented on his band’s name: “honestly, had I taken this whole career thing seriously, I would have named it something else because it’s the worst fuckin’ brand name in the world.”, that is Dave Grohl.
When I watched the Jimi Hendrix documentary, here was a man who, at a very young age, was driven to become one of the best guitar players in history. He learned to play guitar completely on his own, with no lessons or chord reading, he just played and played a lot. Because he learned on his own, he wasn’t influenced to play a certain way and thus, he created his own unique sound. Jimi Hendrix followed his passion, his drive and never wavered until his creation became his legend.
Writing opens a window to my soul, it is my passion and one of my best talents. My ego becomes detached every time I write as I seek to authentically connect with my reader. My purpose is to create thought and hopefully if I am lucky, inspire change. I know I have a long way to go to before I am able to write well enough to keep a roof over my head and reach a million readers. But if I have learned anything from my rock and roll idols, it is that it took them thousands of hours of practice and the creation of hundreds of crappy songs before they ever got to their legend. The path they followed was their own and by fate, their legend was always there waiting for them, they just never gave up.
After watching these documentaries, I was reminded just how much we give up on ourselves too early. In a world of instant gratification, we want to be the best of what we do, now! We claim to have no time, yet we are not willing to make it. We have to be instantly good and we will copy, beg, steal and borrow from anyone or anything to be our greatest yesterday. And if we can’t master something overnight, we quit and move on to something else or worse, we give up and do nothing at all. That isn’t how legends are made. To be legendary, we have to relentlessly practice our craft and leverage our talents at every opportunity. When times get challenging and the critics are screaming, we have to stay on the boat as it is sinking and quickly learn how to breathe underwater. On top of it all, we need to have trust; trust that the path we are following will, in fact, lead us to our legend, provided we walk it in our own way, just like Keith Richards does.