In the last 2 years I have done a lot of unexpected things. I’ve been to places I never thought I would go and I’ve met so many amazing people that would have otherwise remained strangers to me if I hadn’t have crawled out of the ‘safe’ bubble I was in. A bubble that I now see was slowly killing me. Ever since I made a conscious decision that being able to make money from playing music in other countries was something I desperately wanted in my life it seemed to almost magically materialize and has done so in a number of unexpected and interesting ways. Starting with a phone call out of the blue from an old friend asking if I wanted to play in Corfu I was lead from there to getting gigs in Austria which in turn led me to Munich, back to Corfu then off to Australia and so much more since. But I remember crying alone in a dark room the day before I set off to Austria because I was so damn scared. It was the first time I was practically moving away from everything I thought was safe.
Before this time I remember feeling like there was a part of me that was never really fully satisfied. I had been paying my bills solely with my guitar for a number of years and had built up a regularly full calendar of gigs (around 180 per year at my peak) as well as teaching guitar in schools up to around 20 hours a week. I could have happily continued that way for many more years. At least that’s what I assumed. But there was something pulling me and I couldn’t resist. Even if it meant losing everything I’d spent years building up. I think maybe it’s human nature to always wonder what is around the next corner. Even if it holds the possibility of despair. I HAD to take a look. I had to try.
I was however in a time in my life when it helped a great deal. I was unhappy with my repetitive cycle of drugs and alcohol which never fills the soul. I had run out of things to find happiness in so I looked in the wrong places not knowing, or maybe more accurately, being too lazy to realise and find there were many better options. I just had to go looking for them. I think I was suffering from learned helplessness and an underdeveloped sense of my own worth.
I had this feeling like I was failing. I wasn’t fulfilled and I was losing my love for the one thing I think most people I know define me as. A singer/guitarist. I was really lacking in confidence. I hated the sound of my singing. I was playing the same old shit on the guitar I had been banging my head against for many, many months in the vain attempt to write a new song I could be proud of and be emotionally rewarded by its performance; that sense of pride when you play and you feel it reaching someone a fraction of the way it connects to the writer. I was missing that. I still am and in writing this I realise it’s maybe one aspect of what kind of happiness I am currently and personally chasing. One aspect of many different kinds of happiness I am now starting to see.
I do not know the secret to a happy life. I can’t seem to pin it down but even if I did I don’t think it would be very useful on a day to day basis. The world changes so quickly sometimes I think you just have to be able to adapt with it and grow in many aspects of yourself over time and with as much self assurance and self confidence as you can tell yourself that you have. You will make mistakes. Every day. They make you feel bad and you might want to run away from accepting them but they of course are what make you grow. I have spent some days too scared to go outside so I just sit still… I recognise this to be one of the main things that saddens me. That feeling of having wasted a day by being unproductive. So I try to tell myself that if I can force myself to go outside something wonderful usually happens. Traveling has definitely taught me that.
Right now I don’t have any bills. I don’t rent a flat or own a car. The busking and gigs I do provide me the money I need for food, my phone bill each month and day to day necessities and I rely a lot on help from friends & couch surfing for somewhere to sleep. I have savings that will keep me comfortable if I find myself a little lost but I am determined to make them last as long as possible.
I’ve spent most of my adult life with zero debt, a certain amount of money saved away for a rainy day and enough money to enjoy a relatively comfortable life. By comfortable I mean enough to eat, rent and afford things I like now and then. I never really worried about money as much as I seem to now and I have more than ever. I am learning how to make the money I have last longer though and I think that is a really good skill to master. I think a lot of people associate more money with more happiness but I’m not sure if it is particularly true. Of course it helps but somehow I managed to find myself in Australia living with an amazing family looking to explore a new place and play my music to new people… but I was unhappy.
I ended up asking the Universe to point me in the right direction and that was the time I discovered Sebastian Terry’s book 100 Things on the bookshelf. It wasn’t until I started writing my own list of 100 things I wanted to do with my life that I felt like I was on the right track again.
In the last 2 years the personal goals I have achieved include skiing down a mountain (from the top) in Austria for the first time, selling out shows in Munich with my own music, playing gigs in Corfu, celebrating the world cup victory with the Germans in Germany before narrowly avoiding a car fire in France, losing my guitar in Holland, witnessing the firework over Sydney harbour on new years eve, learning how to trampoline in Brisbane, witnessing a total eclipse in the Faroe Islands, providing homes to earthquake victims in Nepal as well as music to the children, raising nearly 10,000 euros to do so by walking over 500 miles through Spain where I got my first tattoo and made a viral music video, seeing the northern lights in Iceland with my mum as well as walking around the Colosseum in Rome and seeing the Pope address the people in Vatican City. It’s not until I look back that I realise what I have actually achieved and if I’m honest it fills me with enough pride to know I’m probably doing the right thing.
I don’t know what life I am heading towards. I’m not living with a determined future in mind. It feels like I am swinging from branch to branch not knowing if the next one will hold my weight as I let go of the one before me but I do know that it feels like the right thing to do. Even if I end up homeless and alone I’ll know that I took a few risks and tried to live for today.
I remember thinking during my 500 mile walk that up to that point I was seeing myself in a very one dimensional way. Now I don’t know what I am. Because I feel like I could be anything.
READ MY 100 THINGS LIST
Please check out this great TED talk about traveling