Doors Opening

 

 

I recently read a book on Finding Vocation written by a Quaker named Parker Palmer. Some of what he writes about describes my current struggle exactly. He talks about a time in his life when he felt lost and frustrated. He thought he should have been more successful by then (he was in his mid-thirties). When he went to the elders of the church to ask why doors hadn’t opened for him yet and how to find his path, one of the women responded, “Sometimes the way forward is learned by doors closing behind you rather than by doors opening in front of you.” When I read that, I started to cry. That single sentence crystallized the facts of my own path: Music Business doors I’ve half-heartedly banged on for thirty-five years have never really opened up for me. The sporadic openings that have occurred have been tantalizing enough to keep me knocking, but they’ve never swung wide open. Maybe that’s because I haven’t worked hard enough, maybe it’s because I didn’t want it badly enough, but it’s still true. My question is how do I know if doors not opening means to give up, or, if it means to try a new angle?

And, how do I know if anything I might still write or sing has any meaning or relevance to anyone else anyway?

This morning, I talked to my husband about all of this and he said, “I think a lot of us feel that way.” Like me, sometimes he wonders if anything he has to say, or anything he might still do, has any meaning or purpose. Knowing he struggles too made me feel better. I wasn’t alone. His empathy made me want to write, which is why I’m here typing away trying to make sense of my thoughts and sharing them with you. Thinking about all those doors that have closed behind me, I realize that what’s left are all the other doors I might open if I turn around and look.

 

Here's a link to the book Parker Palmer wrote

 

15 comments

  • Marilyn Hennessy
    Marilyn Hennessy
    What would/does success look like to you? You certainly have brought joy to my life with your music, your musings, your writing, your bright light, the opening of your home. I find it interesting that I, too, often think no one notices what I'm about. Then I run into folks and am taken aback when they comment about my photos, etc. You never know. I think we must keep on doing what fuels ourselves.

    What would/does success look like to you? You certainly have brought joy to my life with your music, your musings, your writing, your bright light, the opening of your home.

    I find it interesting that I, too, often think no one notices what I'm about. Then I run into folks and am taken aback when they comment about my photos, etc.

    You never know. I think we must keep on doing what fuels ourselves.

  • Thomas Byrnes
    Thomas Byrnes
    Dear Bar, feeling lost, frustrated and useless is a major part of everyone's lives. Here are some wonderful quotes from the great novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (of "Zorba the Greek" fame). 1. "I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dreams. But I feel all the powers of the universe whirling within me." 2. "By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it." 3. "My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness of the stars." 4. "The heart unites whatever the mind separates, pushes on beyond the arena of necessity and transmutes the struggle into love." 5. "The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet." 6. "Trouble? Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and be ready for trouble." I think that all those are bloody marvelous! You have a wonderful gift and I imagine that you hear frequently from those who have been touched by your songs and voice. Look on the plus side of the ledger: You don't have soulless, tasteless Record company executives harassing you or distorting your music for more bucks. You don't have to be in the company of the (mostly) talentless degenerates in the industry. You don't have creeps cozying up to you to get whatever they can bilk from you. You can look inside yourself and be proud of what you've done. To these aged eyes, that's what success looks like. Never give up! Be happy!

    Dear Bar, feeling lost, frustrated and useless is a major part of everyone's lives. Here are some wonderful quotes from the great novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (of "Zorba the Greek" fame). 1. "I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dreams. But I feel all the powers of the universe whirling within me."

    2. "By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it."

    3. "My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness of the stars."

    4. "The heart unites whatever the mind separates, pushes on beyond the arena of necessity and transmutes the struggle into love."

    5. "The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet."

    6. "Trouble? Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and be ready for trouble."

    I think that all those are bloody marvelous! You have a wonderful gift and I imagine that you hear frequently from those who have been touched by your songs and voice. Look on the plus side of the ledger: You don't have soulless, tasteless Record company executives harassing you or distorting your music for more bucks. You don't have to be in the company of the (mostly) talentless degenerates in the industry. You don't have creeps cozying up to you to get whatever they can bilk from you. You can look inside yourself and be proud of what you've done. To these aged eyes, that's what success looks like. Never give up! Be happy!

  • Thomas Byrnes
    Thomas Byrnes
    Dear Bar, feeling lost, frustrated and useless is a major part of everyone's lives. Here are some wonderful quotes from the great novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (of "Zorba the Greek" fame). 1. "I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dreams. But I feel all the powers of the universe whirling within me." 2. "By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it." 3. "My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness of the stars." 4. "The heart unites whatever the mind separates, pushes on beyond the arena of necessity and transmutes the struggle into love." 5. "The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet." 6. "Trouble? Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and be ready for trouble." I think that all those are bloody marvelous! You have a wonderful gift and I imagine that you hear frequently from those who have been touched by your songs and voice. Look on the plus side of the ledger: You don't have soulless, tasteless Record company executives harassing you or distorting your music for more bucks. You don't have to be in the company of the (mostly) talentless degenerates in the industry. You don't have creeps cozying up to you to get whatever they can bilk from you. You can look inside yourself and be proud of what you've done. To these aged eyes, that's what success looks like. Never give up! Be happy!

    Dear Bar, feeling lost, frustrated and useless is a major part of everyone's lives. Here are some wonderful quotes from the great novelist Nikos Kazantzakis (of "Zorba the Greek" fame). 1. "I am a weak, ephemeral creature made of mud and dreams. But I feel all the powers of the universe whirling within me."

    2. "By believing passionately in something that does not yet exist, we create it."

    3. "My soul comes from better worlds and I have an incurable homesickness of the stars."

    4. "The heart unites whatever the mind separates, pushes on beyond the arena of necessity and transmutes the struggle into love."

    5. "The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet."

    6. "Trouble? Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and be ready for trouble."

    I think that all those are bloody marvelous! You have a wonderful gift and I imagine that you hear frequently from those who have been touched by your songs and voice. Look on the plus side of the ledger: You don't have soulless, tasteless Record company executives harassing you or distorting your music for more bucks. You don't have to be in the company of the (mostly) talentless degenerates in the industry. You don't have creeps cozying up to you to get whatever they can bilk from you. You can look inside yourself and be proud of what you've done. To these aged eyes, that's what success looks like. Never give up! Be happy!

  • Chrisy
    Chrisy
    Well written Bar! I love that quote from Parker Palmer! So wonderful to see you and meet Brent! Xoxo

    Well written Bar! I love that quote from Parker Palmer! So wonderful to see you and meet Brent!
    Xoxo

  • Cackie Scott
    Cackie Scott
    You've said, "And, how do I know if anything I might still write or sing has any meaning or relevance to anyone else anyway?" It has some relevance if people are honoring you by publishing your writing, reading your blog and listening to your music. You've received a lot more attention and appreciation than many people get in their lives. You deserve all that you've gotten. Enjoy it.

    You've said, "And, how do I know if anything I might still write or sing has any meaning or relevance to anyone else anyway?"

    It has some relevance if people are honoring you by publishing your writing, reading your blog and listening to your music.
    You've received a lot more attention and appreciation than many people get in their lives. You deserve all that you've gotten. Enjoy it.

  • Doris
    Doris
    Knowing that everyone struggles makes me feel better also. We are not alone: I think that the struggle is a universal. We are all looking for the open road between golden fields to enlightenment. (A great photo!) A heart-felt, bittersweet blog that strikes home.

    Knowing that everyone struggles makes me feel better also. We are not alone: I think that the struggle is a universal. We are all looking for the open road between golden fields to enlightenment. (A great photo!)

    A heart-felt, bittersweet blog that strikes home.

  • Bar
    Bar
    These are all such thoughtful comments! Thank you for taking the time to read first and then to write. In these days of fast everything it's really an honor to hear from you -- ironic, really, given the content of what I've written in my blog. You were right, Cack, and you stated the obvious. I must sound whiny but I think what i felt yesterday is more about the on-going angst of being a creative person (a feeling that most non-creatives feel too, although I would argue that everyone is creative. How can we not be? Living and growing is a creative act). Artists are prone to thinking they'll never do anything meaningful again...I sure suffer that regularly. Marilyn, success can be happily measured by the joy I get when someone like you responds to something I've created. It means a lot, as you know, and has inspired me throughout my life. I was writing very specifically about the business of music, which is not a world I've ever felt comfortable in. I get drawn in when something exciting happens and I think "this is it! It's finally happening!"but that's a slippery slope. I can't deny longing for more. Mostly that has to do with income. My career has been a good one. I set out thirty-five years ago knowing only one thing for sure: I never wanted to work for someone else. I've managed to do that and I'm grateful, but there are two downsides: no retirement, and no one depending on my success for their own income. If I had asked for more help along the way, and if I had gotten it, others would have benefitted financially from my work, AND, I probably would have had more financial success too. Most of the time I'm happy enough with how it's all worked out, but when I doubt my self, or if I feel as though I really have exhausted anything meaningful I might have to say, then I wonder if I shouldn't have been more engaged in the business from the beginning. I feel much better today having blogged yesterday and having this opportunity to communicate in a meaningful way with all of you. So thank you! And Tom, I think what I've just written directly addresses what you've written. I AM grateful not to be involved in some of the harder bits of the music biz. Chrisy, I love seeing you and think about Eric all the time as he embarks on his musical journey. I love that he's chosen to jump in because it reminds me that lots of excellent people are in the business. His clients are lucky. Doris, I rely on you and lean on you. Thank you for being a big part of the peace I get from living here and writing with you. Love to all, and thanks. Bar

    These are all such thoughtful comments! Thank you for taking the time to read first and then to write. In these days of fast everything it's really an honor to hear from you -- ironic, really, given the content of what I've written in my blog. You were right, Cack, and you stated the obvious. I must sound whiny but I think what i felt yesterday is more about the on-going angst of being a creative person (a feeling that most non-creatives feel too, although I would argue that everyone is creative. How can we not be? Living and growing is a creative act). Artists are prone to thinking they'll never do anything meaningful again...I sure suffer that regularly.

    Marilyn, success can be happily measured by the joy I get when someone like you responds to something I've created. It means a lot, as you know, and has inspired me throughout my life. I was writing very specifically about the business of music, which is not a world I've ever felt comfortable in. I get drawn in when something exciting happens and I think "this is it! It's finally happening!"but that's a slippery slope. I can't deny longing for more. Mostly that has to do with income. My career has been a good one. I set out thirty-five years ago knowing only one thing for sure: I never wanted to work for someone else. I've managed to do that and I'm grateful, but there are two downsides: no retirement, and no one depending on my success for their own income. If I had asked for more help along the way, and if I had gotten it, others would have benefitted financially from my work, AND, I probably would have had more financial success too. Most of the time I'm happy enough with how it's all worked out, but when I doubt my self, or if I feel as though I really have exhausted anything meaningful I might have to say, then I wonder if I shouldn't have been more engaged in the business from the beginning. I feel much better today having blogged yesterday and having this opportunity to communicate in a meaningful way with all of you. So thank you!

    And Tom, I think what I've just written directly addresses what you've written. I AM grateful not to be involved in some of the harder bits of the music biz.

    Chrisy, I love seeing you and think about Eric all the time as he embarks on his musical journey. I love that he's chosen to jump in because it reminds me that lots of excellent people are in the business. His clients are lucky.

    Doris, I rely on you and lean on you. Thank you for being a big part of the peace I get from living here and writing with you.

    Love to all, and thanks.
    Bar

  • Lisa Luckett
    Lisa Luckett
    Could the answer be as simple as doing it for your own personal joy and pleasure? Is that enough? Could you possibly be holding on a little too tight? If we can let go of outcome and stay in the moment, that detachment alone brings a peace of mind I have only recently discovered. I believe it is the essence of why we're here and the key to a living a happy life. A very wise, wise mentor gave me a wonderful motto once. It took me years to truly understand its meaning. "Be satisfied with less and magnificence will follow." Amazingly, I understand it now and feel a satisfaction that I only dreamed of having. It's staying in that place that is difficult. You know what you and your music has done for my kids and me…don't give up-- just enjoy it for what and where it is and maybe even let go a little?? xo Lisa

    Could the answer be as simple as doing it for your own personal joy and pleasure? Is that enough? Could you possibly be holding on a little too tight? If we can let go of outcome and stay in the moment, that detachment alone brings a peace of mind I have only recently discovered. I believe it is the essence of why we're here and the key to a living a happy life. A very wise, wise mentor gave me a wonderful motto once. It took me years to truly understand its meaning. "Be satisfied with less and magnificence will follow." Amazingly, I understand it now and feel a satisfaction that I only dreamed of having. It's staying in that place that is difficult. You know what you and your music has done for my kids and me…don't give up-- just enjoy it for what and where it is and maybe even let go a little?? xo Lisa

  • Bar
    Bar
    Dear Lisa You're finding the Buddha! I strive to do the same. I have learned though, that doing it for my self alone is not enough. There's something about the reciprocity, the listening, the stimulating, that moves me almost as much as the creativity. Many artists feel the same. I do it to communicate with others as much as anything else. The thing that haunts me is the need somewhere inside of me to have more and more people hear me. That need has lessened over the years, but when something good happens I still feel myself saying maybe this time something bigger will happen. It's a drag and I know better, but my heart still goes there. If you listen to "Ah ha ha," the first song on my CD Journey, you'll understand a little bit about what I'm talking about. That song is about ego and my dreams, resignation and pleasure for what has happened. The final Ah...is meant to be the sense of "this is just the way it is and I love it." Someday I'll write the story that goes with that song.... Thank you for being such a good friend and for being one of the people I've asked for help from and have gotten way more than I'd hoped for. Hope to see you soon. Love. Bar PS I just got to Denver for the book release party that's happening in an hour or so (this is the anthology that includes "Grace.") Took a hotel room to celebrate and it's so quiet and nice inside that I don't want to go out into the horrendous traffic. Once I'm at Dazzle I'll be happy, though. What an honor to be involved in this book. (Stories of Music). xoxo

    Dear Lisa
    You're finding the Buddha! I strive to do the same. I have learned though, that doing it for my self alone is not enough. There's something about the reciprocity, the listening, the stimulating, that moves me almost as much as the creativity. Many artists feel the same. I do it to communicate with others as much as anything else. The thing that haunts me is the need somewhere inside of me to have more and more people hear me. That need has lessened over the years, but when something good happens I still feel myself saying maybe this time something bigger will happen. It's a drag and I know better, but my heart still goes there. If you listen to "Ah ha ha," the first song on my CD Journey, you'll understand a little bit about what I'm talking about. That song is about ego and my dreams, resignation and pleasure for what has happened. The final Ah...is meant to be the sense of "this is just the way it is and I love it." Someday I'll write the story that goes with that song....

    Thank you for being such a good friend and for being one of the people I've asked for help from and have gotten way more than I'd hoped for.

    Hope to see you soon.
    Love.
    Bar

    PS I just got to Denver for the book release party that's happening in an hour or so (this is the anthology that includes "Grace.") Took a hotel room to celebrate and it's so quiet and nice inside that I don't want to go out into the horrendous traffic. Once I'm at Dazzle I'll be happy, though. What an honor to be involved in this book. (Stories of Music). xoxo

  • Sandi
    Sandi
    Hi Bar! Gorgeous photo! I love seeing the mountains, but I think it's far more striking when the weather obscures them and you just know they're there. I know that feeling, too. For me it isn't self-doubt in the sense of, "is this any good?" or "is this worth saying?" but more the question of "Is it worth putting it out there or will it just be lost in the fog because it isn't meaningful or relevant to anyone else?" But then someone will speak up when I least expect it and let me know that something I wrote or a photo I put out really spoke to them or was very helpful in some way. And that makes it worth it for me. When I hear that something I took the time to put out there was a light in the dark for even one person, that's all the meaning and relevance I need. So please do keep it coming! Just as your husband's empathy was encouraging to you, you post has encouraged me.

    Hi Bar! Gorgeous photo!

    I love seeing the mountains, but I think it's far more striking when the weather obscures them and you just know they're there.

    I know that feeling, too. For me it isn't self-doubt in the sense of, "is this any good?" or "is this worth saying?" but more the question of "Is it worth putting it out there or will it just be lost in the fog because it isn't meaningful or relevant to anyone else?"

    But then someone will speak up when I least expect it and let me know that something I wrote or a photo I put out really spoke to them or was very helpful in some way. And that makes it worth it for me.

    When I hear that something I took the time to put out there was a light in the dark for even one person, that's all the meaning and relevance I need.

    So please do keep it coming! Just as your husband's empathy was encouraging to you, you post has encouraged me.

  • Bar
    Bar
    hi Sandi, thank you for writing. Sorry it took a while to respond. I've been on the road the last few days. I'm so glad for your encouragement and your thoughts. One of my friends (Lisa, above) asked whether creating just for my own joy was enough and I answered no, not really. I love the joy of singing alone, playing alone, writing alone, but ultimately I want to share it with others. It sounds like you feel the same way. It's both invaluable and terrifying because it may not mean to others what it means to us. I spent a lot of years hoping people who weren't drawn to my music would be converted rather than connecting simply with the people who are moved by what I do. Most of those who weren't interested were industry people, and I focused on them in many ways....oy! Waste of time! I wish someone had explained some of this to me when I was younger. Alas, I probably wouldn't have listened! All in all, I feel lucky, especially when someone like you and the others who have written here, reach ot to me. It means a lot, as you know. So thank you. Glad you like the photo, too. I love the gold color. That's the autumn out here. All the best, Bar

    hi Sandi,

    thank you for writing. Sorry it took a while to respond. I've been on the road the last few days.

    I'm so glad for your encouragement and your thoughts. One of my friends (Lisa, above) asked whether creating just for my own joy was enough and I answered no, not really. I love the joy of singing alone, playing alone, writing alone, but ultimately I want to share it with others. It sounds like you feel the same way. It's both invaluable and terrifying because it may not mean to others what it means to us. I spent a lot of years hoping people who weren't drawn to my music would be converted rather than connecting simply with the people who are moved by what I do. Most of those who weren't interested were industry people, and I focused on them in many ways....oy! Waste of time! I wish someone had explained some of this to me when I was younger. Alas, I probably wouldn't have listened! All in all, I feel lucky, especially when someone like you and the others who have written here, reach ot to me. It means a lot, as you know. So thank you. Glad you like the photo, too. I love the gold color. That's the autumn out here.

    All the best,
    Bar

  • Sandi
    Sandi
    I hope you enjoyed your travels! I do feel the same way. Sharing what I create is part of the process for me. Not on every single thing I do, but most. Kind of like cooking a great meal just for yourself can be a wonderful experience, occasionally, but most of the time sharing the meal is an integral part of enjoying it. Now is a great time for artists of all types. It is so much easier, today, to bypass industry people and still reach a large audience. When I was self-publishing in the late 90's I could see the possibilities on the horizon, but did not anticipate things like e-readers and smartphones exploding into widespread use so that everyone has such easy access to everything and we have a direct line to everyone.

    I hope you enjoyed your travels!

    I do feel the same way. Sharing what I create is part of the process for me. Not on every single thing I do, but most. Kind of like cooking a great meal just for yourself can be a wonderful experience, occasionally, but most of the time sharing the meal is an integral part of enjoying it.

    Now is a great time for artists of all types. It is so much easier, today, to bypass industry people and still reach a large audience. When I was self-publishing in the late 90's I could see the possibilities on the horizon, but did not anticipate things like e-readers and smartphones exploding into widespread use so that everyone has such easy access to everything and we have a direct line to everyone.

  • Craig
    Craig
    Love that picture . As doors close others open. No need to think about not writing or singing. You still have a voice and a pen., Git er done.

    Love that picture . As doors close others open. No need to think about not writing or singing. You still have a voice and a pen., Git er done.

  • Bar
    Bar
    Sandi, I heard or read something last week about how short our attention spans are now because we get so much instant gratification from the devices we use. I think they said the average person likes that hit of satisfaction they get every eight seconds. That's the downside of all the devices and outlets we all have and use. I love all the outlets, and I've benefitted from them, but still worry that many of us (including myself) are not taking the time we need to think about the nuances of things, or to listen to an entire song that's new, or read a book that's longer than a few hundred pages. I'm not complaining (I hope I'm not!) but I remind myself regularly to slow down and take something that someone's created in at a relaxed pace. It feels good when I do. And Craig! As always yours is good advice. Just do it! And I do most of the time....try to anyway. Thank you.

    Sandi, I heard or read something last week about how short our attention spans are now because we get so much instant gratification from the devices we use. I think they said the average person likes that hit of satisfaction they get every eight seconds. That's the downside of all the devices and outlets we all have and use. I love all the outlets, and I've benefitted from them, but still worry that many of us (including myself) are not taking the time we need to think about the nuances of things, or to listen to an entire song that's new, or read a book that's longer than a few hundred pages. I'm not complaining (I hope I'm not!) but I remind myself regularly to slow down and take something that someone's created in at a relaxed pace. It feels good when I do.

    And Craig! As always yours is good advice. Just do it! And I do most of the time....try to anyway. Thank you.

  • Sandi
    Sandi
    Hi Bar, Sorry it took me so long to reply. I worry about the downsides, and some of them make me very sad. When people can't break away from their phones to fully engage with the people around them, or just take in their surroundings. But then, I 'm one of those people who felt that way about TV before everyone was sucked into their phones. I do love all of the opportunities, and possibilities, though. Since I work on the computer, I try to get away from it when I can. I've always found that writing on paper is much better for the creative process for me. So I just try to use all of the tools where they work best. I like the internet for keeping in touch with busy friends who live far away, but I prefer in-person time. I love that it allows me to work from home. I hate that it makes so many people feel compelled to take their work with them on vacation, or just out to dinner.

    Hi Bar, Sorry it took me so long to reply. I worry about the downsides, and some of them make me very sad. When people can't break away from their phones to fully engage with the people around them, or just take in their surroundings. But then, I 'm one of those people who felt that way about TV before everyone was sucked into their phones. I do love all of the opportunities, and possibilities, though. Since I work on the computer, I try to get away from it when I can. I've always found that writing on paper is much better for the creative process for me. So I just try to use all of the tools where they work best. I like the internet for keeping in touch with busy friends who live far away, but I prefer in-person time. I love that it allows me to work from home. I hate that it makes so many people feel compelled to take their work with them on vacation, or just out to dinner.

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