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  • Writer's pictureJacke Karashae

letting go of the what and the how

hey kids.

one of the things that really hits you in waves post-grad is the thousand little differentials on what your life looks like vs. what you expected your life to look like–not in the life-shattering existential-definition kind of way, but in all the practical details.

we are used to coming-of-age being a time where we question the why of our lives.  and i’ve had those questions, certainly.  but thankfully, those questions are the occasional tidal wave, not the periodic lapping upon the shore (still stuck on that beach wedding from last week).  but when our frame of reference for all disillusionments (for lack of a better word) is tied up in ideas of resentment, crisis, and emotional upheaval, it can seem really weird when you have a “…huh.” moment that demands to be felt but doesn’t actually shatter your world.

this has been happening to me specifically with music.

music has been a big part of my life, and ever since elementary school i took a degree of ownership of writing and music as my thing, something from which i drew a degree of my identity.  when i was in high school, when the days were long and obligations short, i had a lot of time to pour into music from a production side — i could work for 3+ hours a day on the process and the piece until i made something i was pretty happy with.  i had a fully constructed why-what-how system: changing the world through awesome tunes was the why, recordings were the what, and massive time commitments trying to record were the how.

all through college, there were a lot of changes in my perceptions about music–the why of it all.  the way that i thought about it, and the existential weight i put on it for my life purpose greatly altered.   but despite those alterings, the what and how of what i expected from myself didn’t adjust.  all through college, i felt bad about not having a second album done, and on every anniversary of my album release in april 2011, there was a little talk in my head about whether i’d crossed the point of inexcusable irrelevance.  my excuse/consolation for lack of concrete musical output (recordings) that i gave myself is that once i graduated, i would really get down to it and even though i was having a relatively dry spell in terms of released stuff (even though i was still enjoying and playing music) that my releases would pick up.  the releases would be the metric by which i measured how well i was fulfilling the why of making music that i’d set for myself at seventeen.

so here’s the let-down expectation: i expected to have another album done by graduation–or if not, then soon after.  and that is, like, the farthest thing from the truth.  i worked on an album for several years, and then my understanding of the world had changed so much that the album wasn’t really what i wanted to make anymore.

but here’s the thing: i have a new what and how for music.  i love writing single-instrument pieces, and i love playing live.  i still enjoy and appreciate the recording process (and i even get in on it when friends of mine like monk turner ask me to pitch in vocals for one of his tracks).  but any time i sit down to write, what i’m writing for is a performance, not a production.  when i have the opportunity and the ability, i’m sure i’ll love doing recordings (just like back in high school and earlier, i loved playing for people, just not often).  i’ve found a new normal.  but in order to embrace it i have to proactively let go of the old one.

the mere fact that i set a mental expectation of what i was going to do with music — make albums — and how i was going to do it — spend a whole lot of time on my own recording — has to be reckoned with in my mind.  and until super recently i didn’t realize i needed to actually let go of that old goal in order to be content with my new one.

so this is my letting go.  music for me is no longer a thing solely defined by tracks and plugins and a bitstream — even though i so dearly love those things, and hope to continue doing them somehow.  for now, it’s an open mic.  and if i end up reading this in five years, i am officially giving my permission to let it be something else, as long as i’m doing it for decent reasons.  it doesn’t have to look like what i’m thinking it will in order for me to be happy with it.

’cause hey. i’m only twenty-three. there’s a lot of things i’ve yet to discover.

(oddly, i feel like working on some tunes.  peace out!)

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