What Hiking Taught Me About Singing: Movement II

Movement II: The Path Doesn’t Care About You

The path is not neatly arranged just for your convenience. Every step is a negotiation with the indifferent earth below you, and a choice made out of a handful of possible options. A downhill grade burns the thighs, an uphill climb tears at the lungs, but that ground beneath you is not going to budge for another few thousand years. So, you learn to tread in a manner that is both safe and effective for you. Do you need trekking poles? Fancy shoes or regular runners? Do slow and methodical footfalls help you, or do you leap from boulder to boulder, or do squat and use your hands? Do you prefer to step on the rocky debris or the large older rocks? Only you can choose the method to your gait.

Navigating a singing career is similar in these respects. Like that impersonal trail, the entertainment industry doesn’t care about you. You aren’t special and it won’t rearrange itself or its priorities to serve you; the way is littered with roots and boulders and sometimes disappears briefly without so much as a blaze or cairn to show you where you’re supposed to be headed. As a musician and artist, you must travel these paths; how do you navigate auditions, rejections, bad reviews, unanswered pitches while maintaining your (mental) health?

Do you blame those roots for tripping you or do you learn how to avoid them?

Do you bemoan the natural incompatibility between those boulders and your climbing abilities or do you adapt your approach, as silly as it may look at first?

These are the paths upon which I stumbled for many years. Only now do I feel that I’m finally finding my footing and figuring out how pick myself up, wipe off the dirt, keep going, and acquire an improved approach along the way. In the last few years I’ve finally reached a summit or two; the view brought me to tears. My peaks may not be as impressive as others in the ecosystem, but they are mine.

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