Keeping Your Dreams Alive


I’m grateful for the opportunity to once again realize one of my lifelong dreams. World travel by way of my bass! Today we are heading to Calgary, Canada for a one-off show with our potentially new drummer. I’m happy to say that it’s feeling better than ever and the dream is alive! (I even got to sneak in a nice surf session last night.)

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This last year has been a dynamic one. Highs and lows that are still trying to out do each other it seems. (Is it just me or do election years seem like they tend to be this way?)

With all the hardship and struggle to overcome in life, it sometimes feels difficult to take pause, call a halt and be grateful. However, I find there is no better way to overcome negative thought, depression, or really any other adversity in life, than cultivating gratitude.

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I have a friend, (once my boss for a printing company I managed in Los Angeles), who use to always remind me, it’s a “get to” not a “have to” world we live in. I’d be complaining about all the things I “have to” do… he’d say, ” you don’t HAVE to do anything. You don’t even HAVE to get out of bed in the morning if you don’t want. You GET to do things in life”.

I was annoyed by this thought at first. But after nearly 20 years of running my own business, I’ve grown to rely on these words. To depend on this thought as a motivational tool. Staring at an overwhelming stack of tasks at hand it’s easy to slip into “have to” thinking. This simple switch in perspective and telling yourself it’s something you “get to” do transforms the tedious activities into exciting challenges to figure out and overcome.

For me this works with big issues as well. That dreaded feeling of having to go to the dentist or doctor for some ailing. Or dealing with a terrible tragedy in the family. Even the horrible things are something we get to experience. Life is for the living. (I personally will take this life of highs and lows over a mundane existence any day!)

So what does all this have to do with keeping your dreams alive? Here’s a little personal story I think you might enjoy:

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When I was first starting to get somewhere after a few years of effort with the bass, I had this conversation with my instrument.

“Hey, wow! You’re going to take me around the world aren’t you?” And I swear I heard my 1979 Fender Jazz Bass say in a very soft, strong, deep voice…  simply, “Why, yes! I am.”

As a result of this conversation I chose not to take summer vacations in Europe as many of my friends were doing in high school. I just wanted to play my bass. Knowing it would take me around the world soon enough… (or so I thought.)

Time went on and I grew up with a drive and passion to be a professional musician. (Or so I thought.) I worked very hard to gain a solid foundation and ability to understand all kinds of music. To be a great player. I played in lots of different kinds of bands and many at the same time. Always with the thought of hoping one would take off, be discovered and my journey of world travel through music would begin.

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Any day now I hoped and dreamed… but nothing ever seemed to rise to the level required. Partly, I imagine, because we were all playing in too many projects waiting for one to succeed. Not committing to the focus and hard work it really takes.

As life had it for me, bands became a suffering I no longer desired to put myself through and I chose another way. Move to LA from my home town north of San Francisco and be a studio musician. From there pick and choose the touring acts to join and travel the world!

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Things were going very well and I felt successful in my development. Knowing I was getting closer to “my dreams”. But as time went on, grinding music out daily in studios had its wear and tear on my belief in music itself. I started disliking the process. I wanted to play in a band again. (Or so I thought).

I auditioned for literally hundreds of bands in the Music Connection magazine, “bass player wanted”, listings. Fascinating journey. But ultimately even more disheartening. I was done. But had one last audition scheduled and figured it would be funny at the least. Most were.

I drove an hour into the inner valley. Came upon three unsuspecting guys way of Hong Kong and we talked for about an hour before playing at all. One guitarist Spanish/Norwegian, the other Chinese/English and a drummer originally from India. The singer, who didn’t last very long, was a Mexican from east LA.

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It was an odd bunch. I liked that. I felt easy with them. Comfortable in a way I wasn’t use to with other musicians usually. I loved that band. We ended up a three-piece for a while. Two guitars and bass. We played heavy rock, No drums, no vocals and we blew minds. Opportunity seemed but for the taking. It felt like finally my bass was going to live up to the promise of showing me around the world.

Then came disaster and dissolution once more. Details not worth mentioning. I was done with being a professional musician. Took a job as a delivery driver at a graphic arts company. Ended up excelling there and taking management. Moved on to manage several printing companies and ultimately started my own publishing company. (I’ve left out some fun details that I will share about starting my business in another post. If you’re still reading I’m already up to about 900 words and need to get to the point about keeping dreams alive.)
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About ten years into running my own business I ended up moving back to northern california and buying a house. I was starting to jam around town a little here and there for fun with some old friends. No desire to be in a band. (I did try again for a little while, but quickly remembered why I had given up on that dream. Or so I thought!)

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A couple of years later I meet the guys from the band I’ve now been playing with for about ten years, Orchid. After a few years of developing songs together we ended up signing to a small one-man-operation record label in Germany. He started selling our records and invited us to tour in Europe. We thought it was a joke at first. It wasn’t. It was a rock and roll holiday! We traveled frantically from one city to the next. A show pretty much every night for two weeks. Since, we’ve toured Europe several times extensively.

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My bass is taking me around the world! A childhood dream realized 20 years later.

My point with this long story of seemingly giving up on a dream and finding out that the dream actually never died, is that I never really asked my bass “WHEN?” I never gave my desire a timeline. It was a hard lesson learned. But having a clear idea of “when” they will be realized is critical in keeping your dreams alive.

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6 Replies to “Keeping Your Dreams Alive”

  1. Hey Keith. True words.
    I had to realize for myself that’s it’s very important of keeping your dreams alive and trying to realise them in the short time we have on this planet.
    One of my dreams was to drive the highway 1 in a Ford Mustang.
    So we did it.
    Another dream wwas to have a own little house one day,were in can live with Christina for the rest of our lives.
    We bought one 2 years ago.
    Don’t wait too long. Just do it.
    Do the things that make you happy.
    That is one of the most important things in life.
    I work as a ” legal guardian “. I take care of disabled and mentality handicapped people. I help them to manage their daily lives, help them to get a job, find a place where they can live and so on.
    And that makes me happy too, to help other people.

    Hope to see you next year. You’re one of the good guys.

  2. Keith – That was beautiful and profound. I’m very happy for you and the guys in the band. Well deserved. “Get to” not “Have to”. Brilliant. I too will remember that for the rest of my life.

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