11 days into my new adventure and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind. I find myself with a lot to say to say, so buckle in for the signature Heath tome of verbosity.
This adventure is a great catalyst to being present. Naturally, many have asked me what I will do when this contract is over. Will I take another one? As humans, we are almost always far too wrapped up in the past and the future. Worrying about things that did or didn’t happen in the past or what will happen in the future. Planning our path. Trying to make it happen. We have our hopes, dreams and goals, and we need to find the road to them. I haven’t even boarded the ship yet. I have no idea how I will feel in 7 months from now. Maybe I’ll be sick of being confined to a ship and be homesick and miss my friends, my bands, acting, Austin, and my life there. Or maybe I’ll feel like I’ve found the best life ever and never want to stop doing it. I don’t know. So my best choice is to just focus on today and enjoying it. I’ve had conversations about future contracts, and possibilities if I decided to stay on with Carnival for more contracts. Maybe I could become a Music Manager and direct my own band. Who knows where this will lead, who I will meet, or what opportunities may present themselves?
There is, of course, the fear that if I decide that it was fun but I want to resume my life in Austin, that it won’t be easy because I’ve been away from acting and networking and all the bands I played with and I’ll find myself with no way to pay the bills so I’ll have no choice but to take another contract and now I’m trapped just like any other job. Of course, that’s just fear rearing its ugly head like it does. It has also made me think about the rigidity with which we think about our “hopes and dreams” for life. Is this an awesome job? Absolutely. Is it what I’ve always “dreamed” of doing? No. I never thought “Oh man, if only some day I could sing on a cruise ship! That is what I want to do with my life!” Now of course, my dreams have never been super specific. I dreamed of fame and fortune in music and acting. Touring with my own band, playing my originals and being somewhat “famous” for lack of a better term (though “fame” isn’t the goal at all). Or touring as a side man with some big band. Playing for Sheryl Crow or Lady Gaga, or anything like that. Putting out my music and people buying it and coming to see my concerts. Starring in movies, television and theater as a renowned actor and making a good living doing so. Being a sought after voice over actor.
For some reason, I now actually feel more cut off from those dreams. Like being so isolated in this very specific situation, there’s no chance of any of that. Now of course, that’s just fear again as, like I said before, I don’t know what kinds of contacts and opportunities might come along here. But while I was a freelancer in Austin, it felt like I was at least playing “the lottery.” That big audition could come along. Playing in 8 bands might lead to something. Now I feel like I’m not even really playing, so as they say “You can’t win if you don’t play.” I’m not going to be doing any acting, obviously. No auditions. Now, sure, I’ve already met amazing people and will be playing 6 nights a week on the ship, so that’s definitely something.
However, there’s another, slightly darker undertone to all this. Two years ago, I first started pursuing all this because of a devastating breakup that made me just want to run away from everything and turn off my brain. I wanted to curl up and die, but I also didn’t (really) want to literally curl up die (at least not deep down, though sometimes I thought I wanted that). I considered crazy shit like taking some kind of job at a remote post in Antarctica or something. The equivalent of a “living death.” I didn’t want to actually die, but I kind of wanted to just become a vegetable and live out my remaining days as a zombie. In some ways, I saw this cruise ship opportunity as a better version of that. I could at least be doing one of the things I am here on this earth to do, being on stage and playing music, but aside from that, I could just turn off my brain, look at the ocean and let the remaining days of my life slowly wash away with each wave.
This is not my “dream” life. I do however recognize that it has elements of it. I am paying the bills playing music and singing. And again it makes me wonder about the rigidity of our dreams. Are my dreams too rigid? I don’t know, but they are what they are. I know (in very general terms) what I’ve wanted as long as I can remember. What I feel I’m here to do. Do we make ourselves unhappy by being too hard and unbending in “what we want”? Do we perhaps need to let our dreams redefine themselves along our journey? I don’t know. I do know that we are fear-based beings and that a tremendous amount of our decisions are fear-based and probably the vast majority of our energy is spent catering to fear or trying to fend it off.
What am I going to do 7 months from now? I have no idea. I want to spend more of my energy on today. Enjoying this moment. We will never know what the “right” thing to do is, and many times there probably isn’t even a “right” thing to do. The best we can do is relax and let the river take us where it will. Don’t fight the current. Though you might want to at least gently paddle in a particular direction.