Brent Ryan

Chasing Your Dream

Posted on July 5, 2018 in music, Music Business, Musical Events, Musical Inspiration, Opinions

I was recently at a Kyle Park concert here in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas. For those of you who don’t know, Kyle Park is a relatively well-known performer and songwriter in the Texas Country/Red Dirt scene.  We enjoyed his show. During his performance he mentioned a gratitude towards his parents who supported him, allowing him to “chase his dreams”.  Not an uncommon sentiment shared by many performing artists.  But, for some reason that phrase has stuck in my head since that night. Why?

I guess the phrase “chasing your dream” implies that you have a goal, presumably a lofty one if it fits the category of being a dream, and that you are in the process of pursuing that lofty goal.  Pretty safe assumption, right?  Now, for Kyle Park, at the time that he uttered the statement from the stage, he has charted some songs on the Texas Country charts, possibly even the national billboard charts, and is performing regularly at some of Texas Country’s best festivals and events.  He has done a good job with his career!  Better than most. And I wondered to myself if he has achieved his dream yet, or is he still in the chase?  It caused me to ask these questions for myself.

It’s weird, you know, because most people, myself included, tend to always want more.  We think some long-awaited accomplishment will fix some of our major problems, or solidify our personal success. Then we reach that long-awaited accomplishment, and lo and behold, there are still problems! Seems to be a defining characteristic in the human condition.  At least it is in mine!

I reflected on some of this in my recent blog post, “Is Texas Just a Mini-Nashville?”.  My reflections continue here.  I have frequently told myself that I cannot predict whether or not I “make it big”, so why set that as a goal? I don’t know that it’s wise to have a goal that you can’t control.  Then you’re putting your fate into the hands of others, and that can mean some serious discouragement if you have some expectation of what the hands of others will do for you! But I do believe in goals. So I try to set them on factors that I can control. For example…

Play 10-12 performances per month

Release new music by the end of 2018

Build a minimum of 120 Spotify followers by July 30th

These are goals that I can set ahead of myself and pursue them realistically. But I have no way of predicting my own fame and glory. Trends change, industries change, economies change, nations change, people change!  Too many variables!

If you reached back into time and talked to me three years ago and told me what my music career looks like today, I would be amazed and say, “wow, I can’t wait to get there!”  But here in the present, I tend to constantly dwell on some level of future success.  So, when is enough enough?  When is your dream fulfilled?  I admit that my so-called “dreams” are often too ambiguous.  And that is dangerous for my own heart and my ability to feel discouraged or underachieved.  And it often is comparative in nature. What do I mean? I mean, I find myself asking questions like, “how do I get to where Kyle Park is?”  But would I even like being where Kyle Park is?  Am I willing to do what Kyle Park did to get to where Kyle Park is? Maybe I should ask these questions first!

One unfortunate truth of my own musical experience, is that I enjoy performing in small spaces to small audiences more than I do on big stages to the masses. I love telling stories and making intimate connections. That is unfortunate, because that means less money at the gigs, generally speaking.  So then I have to ask myself, is it worth doing something that’s not really me in order to meet my financial goals, or my fame goals, or my record-sale goals? Or am I happier being a low-income person but performing in ways that I find more personally fulfilling?

I really don’t have the answers here. But I am asking the questions. I honestly don’t know if there are any solid answers. Perhaps just more questions.  But if there is a conclusive statement to be said for these ramblings, then I guess it would come down to something like this…

I hope I can find happiness and fulfillment no matter what my audience or following looks like, by staying true to my own calling, talents, and path.  I don’t know that a dream can be chased. I tend to think I can choose to be living my dream today, or I can choose to chase a different plan.  If I get to wake up above ground today, perform and write music, and walk a little further down the path that makes me feel happiness and peace, then I think I’m right there in my dream. What is left to pursue?  Contentment in the present moment. That’s a hard thing to achieve. But I think that is a dream worth pursuing.