In less than 24 hours, my friend Brad will have performed on the Conan o'Brien show on late night national television. He used to come to open mic in a blazer and sit by himself in a cocoon of shyness until he got to know people. Now he's got management in Los Angeles and is probably going to be a household name pretty soon.
Yesterday, my friend Dave, a pro for many years, announced that he's headlining Brad Garrett's room in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve. Dave's enough of an aficionado of the old school that this is a special honor, up there with his TV appearances and sold-out club gigs.
Earlier tonight, my friend Jon headlined an open mic in Bowling Green for the first time, doing a 15 minute set. By all reports he did great and he left the stage exhilarated and ready for more. He's been at it for a year or so, started out endearingly, weirdly terrible, and has become a funny voice on stage who's learning how to make a crowd laugh and get the job done.
There are so many levels, stumbling blocks, stepping stones, in any creative endeavor. There are people who will actively thwart your progress, usually with their glad hand out and a smile on their face. There are people who will snark and sneer if you don't choose a path that meets their approval.
But resonating over all that are the friends and the people you admire, who do good work and whose successes are a pleasure to see. I don't know if 'love' is too suffocating a term in this cynical age, but I love my friends and it's like a shot of pure oxygen to see when they hit a milestone, level up and get a piece of that mad thing we chase.
Where am I? What's my level? It's good, man. I'm working. I regularly lose my shit and go into several days of depression when I don't get what I want, but that's my failing. I get to perform and get paid for it. I get to drive to open mics with my friends in the car, dissecting the woes of the world and cutting up like hell while we eat up the miles and make new friends in other towns. I have an album, I'm making a DVD. I'm broke and aging and exhausted all the time and I'm doing as close to exactly what I want as I've ever gotten.
Remind me when I forget: all of us are climbing up on those stumbling blocks and giving the Reaper the finger every day, wherever and however we do it. Help me to clear out the underbrush of bullshit and spend more time on the joy. Smack me in the face and tell me for the ten thousandth time how lucky I am to have lungs full of air and a mouth full of dirty words to tell you. Raise a toast, gas up the car and let's get to the show, because it's gonna be a stitch.
Where I write about the stuff I do when I'm out doing the stuff I do.