I don’t usually go around looking for messages in things but two things this weekend felt like signs pointing toward something, probably because my mind has been in that space lately—I blame my impending 35th birthday! I don’t mind getting older but this feeling of “I don’t know what I want to do with my life!” mixed with “I should just be brave and do something huge! But WHAT?!” pokes at me regularly.
On Friday I did something on my own that wasn’t eating at a restaurant: I went to a Joe Zambon CD release party for his new CD, Brothers. Have you heard of him? Actually, go listen to I Just Want Peace and Why This Had To Be, and tell me what genre you’d classify his music because I’m not sure.
I got to the concert on time, moved twice until I found the perfect seat, and was completely absorbed by the music—his voice, the lyrics, and the talent of everyone playing instruments (including him) and doing backup vocals. And when he played the song that introduced me to him last year (Why This Had To Be), I let the music wash over me. I know I was smiling through most of the concert. I love when artists chat up their audience and Joe did. I felt so connected to the whole experience; I can’t say that about many concerts.
After church on Sunday, I went to a restaurant for lunch. I had noticed a guy who was sitting in front of me, just in a “Oh look! Another person having a solo meal” way, nothing more. I went to the washroom and when I was returning to my seat our eyes met and we said hello to each other. Thirty minutes later he turned to me suddenly and asked if I went to my old high school, and said he remembered me hanging out with a certain girl. I looked at him closely and recognized him as “Jim”, a guy a year older than I was, who I remembered as being a geek (not meant as an insult!) who was really into music—he had been in the school band in both middle and high school. We exchanged pleasantries; it turns out his parents go to the same church I do. He told me that he left a job in IT after 12 years to pursue music—he just graduated from a program in music composition and when I asked he told me his dream is to write musical scores for movies.
It wasn’t until later that I was able to connect these two experiences in a deeper way. In the first instance we have a 27-year-old who just released his fourth album. Music has been a part of life since he was young and though I’m not sure, based on his age it’s likely he pursued music as a career early on. Making an album is a real labour of love and he talked about the decision to produce this latest album. When we think of albums, it’s usually the ones connected to music deals with recording companies—when you don’t have a deal you have to pay out of pocket for everything and hope that album sales and concert profits will exceed your expenses (studio time, physical production of CDs…). But as I listen (over and over) to the Brothers album, which Joe wrote all the songs for, I can’t imagine that he would have been able to keep these words to himself—they were meant to be heard!
“Jim” took a longer route to his dream, and he said it would be a while still until he’s where he wants to be. I asked what his parents thought of his career change and he said his mom had a hard time with it; it sounds like her reaction was like a Nigerian parent’s would be (though he’s not African)! At almost 36 he’s just entering his dream profession, but anyone who knew him years ago knew that music was his heart. And my heart was so happy for him—though I hadn’t seen him in at least 15 years something within me was beaming as he talked a bit about his journey. And just as quickly as he turned to me in that restaurant, he was on his way.
These men are a reminder that if you have a dream within you, pursue it! It won’t go away, and your “safe” alternative won’t satisfy your soul forever. I have no doubt that Joe Zambon has had many challenges on this path he chose, but when you see him performing you feel that he’s doing what he’s meant to be doing. If you’ve been waiting to pursue your dream, I think you’ve waited long enough!
Is there something “worse” than being in “Jim’s” shoes? Yes—knowing that you’re not doing your life’s work yet not knowing how to figure out what that is. I’ve been encouraged to be satisfied with my life, and I can see how me saying that I’m not doing what I’m meant to be doing can sound like I’m not grateful for my life as it currently is, though that’s not my intent—sometimes I get frustrated that I’m trying to move toward a goal that isn’t clear to me. I’ve been working on being more content with where I am, but I really hope I get some insight about what my life’s work is, sooner rather than later.
Do you know what you’re meant to be doing? Are you doing it?