In late 2012, after 13 years of playing music “on the side” and taking inventory of what I should be doing with my life, I decided to pursue music full-time. To take a risk and follow my heart. To choose happiness over financial stability.
Once that decision was made, I began planning my next moves, putting some money aside, and getting my to-do lists in order. Honestly, it was shocking how well things started falling into place. Before I knew it, I had 7 shows booked for December and 16 for January. I was able to work out a practical budget for 2013, invest a few hundred dollars into the car I’d be using to tour, and bought a new MacBook to use for booking shows, promotional correspondence, photo editing, web/graphic design, and recording.
Then life happened.
In early December, on the first day of being a self-employed independent musician, my computer was stolen in a public library while I stepped away to get a drink of water. Eventually coming to terms with the fact that I didn’t have time to hold a grudge with the universe, I decided to move on. My new computer was gone, and it wouldn’t be coming back. However, that whole experience really showed me how many people had my back. Several people offered financial assistance, others offered used computers, and a group of friends in Lafayette even offered to help replace my computer through a benefit event that I ultimately turned down. Although December was a challenging month, I came out stronger in the end and had a great January.
Then life happened. Again.
Earlier this week, on February 4, I was involved in a no-fault car accident on the Interstate that totaled my ’98 Toyota Camry. This was the vehicle that logged 1,553 miles during January 2013 to get me to all 16 shows I played throughout Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. Because my car was paid off and not worth that much, I only had liability coverage at the time of the accident. Translation: total loss. Although my airbags deployed and my front-end was completely smashed, neither the passenger in the other vehicle nor I suffered any cuts, bruises, bloody noses, or broken bones. Here’s a picture of the damage:
Here’s a short video that also shows the inside of the vehicle: vine.co/v/bnhxrlzQDTT
So I’m now a full-time touring musician. Without a touring vehicle. And without enough funds to buy another car. If you were in my shoes and had a similar past three months, what would you do? I asked that very question on Facebook and Twitter, and here are the responses I received from friends, fans, and family members:
- So glad you are okay. Definitely not karma.
- It’s life making sure you are positive this is what you want, and I think it is. Time to kick some ass.
- Persevere! One day you will write a great book about your road to success.
- You had beginners luck, this is a test if you want it
- A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it
- Things happen for a reason to get us to pause and reflect. Your music is beautiful! Don’t ever forget that you are blessed with a gift to share. This too shall pass…
- Nobody writes good songs when everything is going their way!
- You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me, Mike. Damn it. Glad your okay…but damn it.
- Keep going!! You are too talented to quit!!
- Quite possibly Karma’s way of telling you, “If you really want this, you’re going to have to endure some hardships…but I’ll reward you for doing so–big time–if you hang in there!”
- What it is: Another thing you can claim as sacrificed for the success. A loss, as all the more reason to keep going. If not, the car was totaled for nothing.
My friend Adam Ollendorff played electric guitar and pedal steel on my 2010 album, Breaking. Adam now plays and tours with Will Hoge, who co-wrote the 2013 Grammy-nominated song “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” The lyrics seem to be speaking to my current situation:
“Gotta keep believing if you wanna know for sure… Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart… Keep on dreaming, don’t let it break your heart.”
Don’t worry, I’m not giving up on my dream. I’ve picked up the pieces and am already moving on.