It's around 8 AM and I am sitting at a cluttered desk in our hotel room on the top floor of a hotel a few blocks from Music Row. The kids just woke up and are sipping chocolate milk as they giggle at an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse they've seen at least twenty times before. How can they watch this stuff over and over?
I have a long list of anxieties that are thinly buried, barely below the surface of my mind. I don't have time or energy for them this morning. I try to keep them from cropping up.
We have a busy day in front of us. Not the normal kind of busy day, where all the tasks are well-rehearsed and their outcomes predictable. It's a busy day full of firsts, a day of question marks. The next 16 hours are a big, white blob of uncertainty and I'm very uncomfortable. I'm a creature of habit. My routines are the rhythmic backbone of my life. They keep me grooving. Most importantly, they help me maintain the illusion that I am in control.
Today, it's obvious that very little is actually under my thumb.
This is where the anxiety comes to the surface. What am I doing here?
I'm not a celebrity. I'm an artist, a songwriter, a touring musician. Sure, tens of thousands of people know my music and regularly attend my shows, but I'm no where near a celebrity. I've never had a hit song on the radio, never been visible in the mainstream media and received little recognition by the industry at large.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I'm not bitter about those things. I'm just stating those facts because they are relevant today. Just explaining why I feel like a fish out of water.
Yet, here I am, about to walk right into the middle of a culture that thrives on "celebrity," into a red carpet kingdom where the celebrities rule. Surrounded by country music's biggest stars, who've garnered countless awards, had chart topping singles, multi-platinum albums and repeated media exposure, all of my accomplishments will be reduced to nothing and I will be invisible.
There. I admit it. I have an ego and it is in deep shit tonight.
That's why I have to go. The ego is the enemy and it must be punished. I must confront the reality that I have a long way to go. My goal is to be heard by as many people as possible without sacrificing the integrity of my art. If I can't step out of my comfort zone and face the discomfort of being an "unknown" in the industry, then I'll be admitting failure. I'll always wonder "What if?" "How many more people could have gotten the message?"
Our routines are comfortable. They are easy. They protect our egos and make us feel safe. Sometimes, we need to be challenged, though. Otherwise, we are staring mindlessly at the same episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, convinced that it is good for us.
Turn that crap off kids!