Summing up an entire year over two blogposts is something that just simply can't be done.
I'm going to try to do it anyway.
A lot has happened to me over the last 12 months and - for mainly myself - I'd like to finish out 2016 by writing a handful of words about each one of the highlights. This final post of the year isn't meant to be inspirational or motivational, although if someone finds it to be, that would be a pleasant surprise.
It's only purpose - for now - is to be personal.
I made the decision back in 2011 to record my very own album; a collection of songs that solely came from a single person and was inspired by the experiences given to me. It took five years to put together, but in January of this year it was finally completed. I can't say for sure if I succeeded in what I set out to do artistically, but the album was finished nonetheless.
And then came another one.
"Music Inspired by the Motion Picture" was put together over the course of the spring and summer and released at the end of September. I couldn't be happier with it. I am so pleased with how it turned out that if I never put out another album again, I'd be fine with that.
I've also had a wonderful time playing a supporting role in a band.
I've always considered myself to be a bass player first and foremost. I was delighted to be asked to play bass in a new band at the beginning of the year. Being part of an exceedingly talented group of musicians and getting to have input on the creative process has been a truley exciting adventure. I even had the oppurtinity to record an EP with this group back in March and April. The EP can be found here.
Then there is teaching.
I've already covered that in a previous post, but I cannot say how thankful I am to be able to teach music to kids three times a week. Getting to pass on the passion and knowledge I have on to the next generation is something I will never grow tired of.
I've discussed this ad nauseum, but there's a reason for that.
Iceland was a place I wanted to visit for a very long time. I got to live out one of my dreams, something I longed for.
If you've ever experienced that, you know just how meaningful it is.
I've been asked by many concerning what this thing is exacly about. I'm still hesitant to share, mostly because there's still so much work to be done on it. Chapter topics haven't been set in stone. They're constantly being added, deleted, and shuffled around. The title has been evolving as well. It currently shares its name with one of my songs but that could certainly change by the time it's complete.
I can however, give a vague description of what exactly I'm going for.
I have a theory. It's not anything scientific or even that well thought out, but it's an idea that I've had for a good portion of the year.
In order for one to be creative one has to be inspired. The things we are often inspired by are things we care deeply about. For myself, I find that I care so deeply about certain things that no one else in existence has the capacity to comprehend just how much they mean to me. It is only then I can create the best possible pieces of art.
In short, our best work comes from when we attempt to communicate to others just how much something means to us.
There's a lot more to the book than that but I'll save everything else for another time.
The Season of Pain
This wasn't something I ever wrote about but I wanted to briefly mention it because the lows deserve just as much attention, if not more, than the highs.
The last half of my summer was most likely the worst few months I had ever had in my life. I won't go into any detail about why in order to respect the privacy of those involved, but looking back on it, I am thankful it happened.
The thing about tough times is that they have such purpose in our lives. They teach us, allow us to grow, and show us what we should ultimately be focusing on.
I recently made a list of ten things I learned thoughout those two months. Despite hating every minute of what I went through, when all was said and done, I came out of it with a different perspective on many things, including myself.
Wisdom comes from the things you experience and not all of our experiences can be pleasant. We wouldn't grow very much if they were.
I finally completed college.
There isn't much to say about this other than I am very thankful that I was able to complete something I never thought I would.
The story behind this is pretty long so I'll save it for a piece of writing next year.
Every year will have both ups and downs, there's no way around that.
I wrote in last week's post that I've been seeing a lot of hate towards 2016, but the way I see it, this year hasn't had anything that any other year hasn't. There will always be election results that a large group of people won't be happy about, conflicts between nations will always exist, and celebrities will continue to die whether we like it or not.
The same goes with the personal year each one of us had.
I'm sure I will continue to make music, I'm sure that a few things I long for will be given to me, and I'm sure that I will go through even more seasons of pain. That's just the way things go.
Each of us now have a new chapter to add to our stories. Every one of those chapters is unique but at the same time similar. They all contain highs and lows that we can learn from. We only have to look at them the right way.
I've been trying to decide all week on how to conclude this post. I knew this final piece of writing for 2016 should end with a bang but I didn't have a clue what that bang was. Should I end this post with a piece of music? Some sort of inspiring video perhaps?
I decided no on both of these.
I'll end my final post of 2016 with a few words. Words that I have looked to many times throughout the year. Words that I hope you will instill within yourself as much as I have. Words that you should follow when you reflect on the year you've had. They don't need any explanation or clarification. These words speak for themselves.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
- Philippians 4:8
Happy New Year.
I want to use the last two blogposts of 2016 to do some reflecting on the year that I have had.
I've been seeing numerous articles, videos, and people in general complaining about how terrible of a year 2016 has been. And while I can't speak for anyone other than myself, I can honestly say that my year has been nothing but one of the most unique times in my life. It wasn't even close to terrible.
It didn't start that way though.
My 2016 began in the worst way possible, with me in a bad mood. The clock struck midnight, and as everyone around me was celebrating the start of a new beginning, I was sitting in a chair, staring blankly at the ground, and worrying about the next 12 months that where ahead of me.
I wanted nothing to do with 2016.
I'll go into more detail next week, but what I thought was going to be a year of doom and gloom ended up being a year of achievement, experience, and growth. I discovered a real love of writing, I finished college after being in and out of it for almost seven years, I got to travel to a place I have wanted to go since I was a teenager, I released two different albums and two different EPs, I lost friends and gained them back, and I learned an immense amount of detail about who I am and what I excel at.
2016 will always hold a special place within my memories.
Even though I began the year in such a negative place, I wouldn't change anything about that. As a matter of fact, the negativity I was feeling throughout the beginning of the year pushed me to create this website. I didn't know how it was going to turn out when I first put it together, but over the course of the last 11 months, I've had an immense amount of positive feedback about how it has been an encouragement to others.
I couldn't be happier knowing that it has had some sort of positive impact.
So I want to thank each and every one of you who has taken the time to read anything I've written over the course of this year. Thank you to those who have listened to my music. Thank you to those who have watched any of my films. Thank you to those who have viewed any of my photographs. Thank you to anyone who took the time - even if it was a single minute - to observe any one of my artisitic endeavors.
Whether you are someone who knows me in real life or you are one of the countless anonymous users from around the world that stumbled across this site in some way, I want you to know that your visit here has meant a lot.
The attention you've given to my work is appreciated more than words can say.
Life is still busy at the moment and I unfortunately don't have as much time as I would like to write out a full blogpost post for this week.
So instead, I thought I would share with you a piece of music that I've been indulging in as of late.
The song is from one of my favorite artists, Josh Garrels, and is titled "May You Find a Light". I think it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the current Christmas season. Have a listen:
If you get a chance, I suggest you listen to the entire album. It's a collection of Christmas music but it's certainly not your typical Christmas album.
And that's what I admire so much about it.
This is going to be a tough one.
Tonight more than ever, I am finding it difficult to stick to my goal of writing one blogpost per week until the end of the year. With working six days in a row, playing music late into the night with my band, serving at my church, and fighting a slight cold, I feel like I've been running at 100 miles per hour this week without any time to catch my breath. The last thing I want to be doing right now is writing. I'd much rather be asleep in my bed.
However, I set a personal goal for myself and I'm not going to let a few variables get in my way. Especially when the task I want to accomplish is so close to being complete.
Unfortunately, lethargy is quite a common thing in my life. There are far too many moments in which I am not motivated whatsoever. Not texting a friend is easier than actually texting them, hitting the snooze button is easier than waking up, and not writing a blogpost is easier than writing one. I could make a whole list of things that I would rather not do than do, but I won't.
It's easier not to.
Over my years of struggling with laziness, I've found that there isn't much one can do in order to make it disappear completely. If anyone has discovered the secret, please, let me know. For myself however, I've found there is one sure-fire way for me to somewhat combat it.
I'll pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and think as loudly as I can to myself, "JUST DO IT".
I find myself doing this a few times a week and it always works. In fact, I had to do so in order to find the motivation to write this.
I'm glad I did.
There are only three more weeks left in 2016 and I am looking forward to writing a blogpost for each one. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and as hard as it is to stay committed, I'm happy I have so far.
So if you find yourself unmotivated this week, if you can't seem to get started on that thing you should be working on, or if you just need some sort of kick to get you going in the morning, let me be the first to tell you...
JUST DO IT!
You'll be glad you did.
This week's post is for all of the artists out there. The ones who strive to express. The ones who long to create.
And the ones who find it to be a frustrating endeavor.
When I begin to create something - whether that be in writing, music, or filmmaking - I usually find that I have the same two expectations. The first is that I want to have the finished product as soon as I possibly can. I want it done right away. The second is that I want to see immediate reactions from others.
The truth is, this never happens and I'm still learning to live with it.
The creative process is exactly that, a process. It isn't a one step action. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes patience. That process may take hours, it may take, days, it may even take years. You're just going to have to deal with it.
Keep working at it though. Your vision will never be complete unless you actually put the time and effort in that is needed to make it a reality.
I found myself a bit frustrated this week with my book. It's been a grueling process that can't be compared to any other project I've worked on. Someone asked me when it was going to be finished and I wanted to have an answer for them, but I didn't. If there is a prime example of a creative process that takes time, it's writing a book (especially if you've never done so before). The goal is 55,000 words and I'm at 3,400. I've been writing for about a month so you do the math. With the exception of my first EP, this is going to be the longest creative process I've ever taken on. However, I know that there will be a payoff.
There always is, even if it's not immediately obvious.
Art should never be created for the sole purpose of pleasing or impressing another person, but when somebody is effected by something I've made, I'm always grateful for it. It's funny though, I've been creating for years and it wasn't until recently that I began to notice others telling me of how they have been moved by my work. Some have found my music to be insightful and others have found my film work to be moving. Someone even told me that something I wrote made them cry.
It's moments like these that make the frustrating creative process worth it. Not because somebody else was impressed by what I did or because I brought some sort of attention to myself.
It's because the art itself moved someone in a way nothing else could.
So don't be discouraged. Be patient with what you're working on. Odds are, if you put in just the right amount of work, there will be some sort of payoff whether you see it or not.