At least, not the dead-by-27 kind.
As today marks my 28th year on the planet, I don't share as much as I hoped with Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, also known as the 27 Club for their deaths (by drugs, alcohol, etc.) at that age, dramatically leaving a world touched by their music alone forever.
Either I haven't touched the world enough with my music, or I'm not pushing the drugs hard enough.
Must. Work. Harder.
* * *
What's That Like?
Stephen Sondheim was 27 when his first Broadway show, West Side Story. Stephen Schwartz was 23 when he took the world by storm with Godspell.
But I mean, who cares... age is just a number.
My friend and collaborator Kirsten Guenther (we wrote Mrs. Sharp together) and I have a little joke. When I was 24 and she was 26, I asked her, "26... what's that like?"
When I turned 26, I had a voice mail from her.
"So... what's it like?"
She's 30 now.
I mean... what's THAT like?
Changing, It Keeps Changing...
One thing I've noticed over the last two or three years is that my family is changing. No longer aunts, uncles, cousins and grandpeople, my family is now my friends, extended family, even second cousins... Blood no longer means what it used to, and simple love and clear-headed loyalty mean much more.
My art, too, is changing. Tony Asaro, Crazytown author, my grad school bestie, and Ambassador to the Short Country, said to me at NYU when I was 21: "You'll know much more when you're older." I'm paraphrasing, and it wasn't meant in a condescending way. He is 8 years older than me; it was merely true.
But it bothered me. I took his aphorism as meaning I was currently missing something, and that later, I'd find it, as he had, and others had who were older. That seemed unfair and plain wrong.
But soon I saw that what it meant was not that anything was missing then or now. It was simply that, though everything was already within me, it would all become much better and stronger. And smarter.
* * *
The Good and the Bad
Immediately following grad school at NYU, a lot happened and a lot of it was really good for me. I was 23 then... I felt younger than the rest, further than most, and each day I woke up feeling great.
That's different, now, too. Some Bad has happened, especially this year, and though my animalistic defense mechanism kicks in and shuts down stupid things like insecurity, self-doubt and feelings in general, the journey has made me weary.
I'm full-speed ahead, mind you ... it's just heavier on me now. And will continue to be, I'm sure.
Perhaps the Good I experienced continues even today, but now, it takes much more Good, or Good at a Higher Level, to give me that same thrille. Many mornings, especially this empty summer, I woke up feeling something was missing. Ultimately it was just that I needed more of my drug...
I needed more and harder work. It fulfulls me like nothing else can... in a way that completes my life and encourages me to share it with Matt, and my lovely little puppy, Tommy.
* * *
Today it feels like the race has stopped. The race with others, with myself. It's much clearer in 2012 than it was in 2008 that what I do is different from those around me. Better or worse is subjective; what I do will be beloved by many and hated by others, and that's okay. As long as who I am and what I do interests a group of people large enough to sustain a run of a show, to support the creation of sheet music, songbooks, CDs, and more... that's what matters.
And one day the tide may turn in my, or their favor, and What I Do will come totally En Vogue, and that group that is intrigued by my work will expand, and who knows, may dominate.
That's not within my control. Being good and outputting work, is, however.
* * *
Today is The Day
Though it's Monday, it's my birthday goddammit and I can do what I want. And what I want is...
Eat. Clinton St. Baking Company for blueberry multigrain pancakes and the egg breakfast... then Cilantro for delicious Mexican stomach explosion. Then a black and white cake from Amy's Bread. If that cake could listen to my feelings and have sex with me, I would break up with Matt. (I love you, Matt.)
Work. On a short screenplay, a youth theatre commission, and my new untitled "Missouri show."
Play. See a movie. Compliance. Games. Much like the game of my life and my career, I can say with complete sincerity that "winning" isn't even a thought. Just playing, and with good people to boot, is what excites me, and why, believe it or not, I'm really looking forward to this birthday.
Must. Work. Harder.
RYAN SCOTT OLIVER wrote the music and lyrics for Darling, Mrs. Sharp, 35mm, Jasper in Deadland and more. www.ryanscottoliver.com
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