Sunday, October 24, 2010

Passion over Plastic

I was thinking over the weekend about my second draft of my essay about the music industry, and came across an interesting question: what fuels the music? This seems like such an obvious question at first, considering the lyrics and personalities you see present everywhere in the business. I mean, what are people's motives? Anyone can sing a song for money...anyone can sing a song for fame....for love...for an experience they've never had....but what about passion? It seems like when you confront these people who seem so invincible behind their "look-at-me-im-better-than-you" lyrics, they cower in the idea of not knowing how to do that. Now, don't get me wrong, plenty of artists out there have passion behind their music, but there is a very distinct difference between passion and greed. You can hear it in the music, you can see it in how people carry themselves. After coming across this question in my mind, I had to sit back and marvel at the fact that most of the industry is a fraud. Look at the companies willing to give contracts to anyone who is easy on the eyes. After all, they can supply the vocals, the lyrics, the dance moves, the attitude, even the words that come out of their mouths. It's all a big scam for money, in the end. What would these huge companies be with record sales? Nothing. And they know that, so they continue to play along with popular interest to basically make human Barbies that everyone will be head over heels for. And for what?? So someone will spend $13 on a record that is made of plastic, lyricists, and choreographers? Where is that pure, heartwrenching passion? When I write a song, I spend hours upon hours working on it. I let my soul write for me, not a corporation. I profess to only being myself, not some perfect, plastic, above-human-kind personality that no one is good enough for. When it comes down to it, my music is passion is it's simplest form. My music is a picture of who I am, inside and out, nothing concealed, everything on the table. That is what passion IS. Now we have to bring that back out of the industry. Those people who sing for more than just a job, but for a feeling of release, a feeling of joy, a feeling of  being totally consumed and caught up in that moment with every note that is coming out of your instrument, every word that is spilling out of your mouth at that moment, every passing second that couldn't be any more beautiful, in complete rawness. THAT is passion.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

From a Dreamer's Perspective

I've always dreamed of who I would be. Ever since I was little, I was a person of imagination. I dreamed of being great, being strong, and going somewhere that was outside of where I could go. I remember running through my neighborhood during sunset, pretending that my future was at the end of the road, where the last bit of light was hitting. I remember running free, eyes closed, mind open, to where I wanted to be. Now a decade later, not much has changed. I realized that those dreams that I always wanted ARE possible. ANYTHING is possible with dedication, hard work, and passion. I remember sitting in the woods behind my house, all by myself, pretending I lived in a beautiful city, with bright lights, where everyone would notice me. Even then, I dreamed of setting myself apart to do something big, and I still do. After years of struggle, trials, highs and lows, I have realized my dream of becoming a professional musician. I can't imagine being anything else, and I know why that is. I believe that God has given me a gift for music for His purpose. I have a burning desire to stand up and set myself apart from the crowd. I've never wanted to be just a face in the crowd, but instead the person who leads the crowd. God showed me that with His help, I can go amazing places with my talent, for His purpose, to point His children back to the path of holiness. I've begun persuing what I know is my purpose by writing songs for a demo to be sent out to major record companies. It seems like an impossible dream from far away, but like I said, anything is possible. I have a light to shine in the dark world of the music industry. I see no motivation towards this dream in the need for money, or fame, because I know behind the lights, the glitz and glamour, and the publicity, will be me, the girl who has a talent, and a mission, and a passion to spread both of them world wide. If I could give any advice to those wanting to pursue their dreams as I have begun the pursuit of mine, it is this.

Don't fear anyone, or anything. No trial is big enough to take you down with the help of God. Go for everything you desire with all of your heart, in the name of your dreams, for the purpose of your life. Take the hard times and let them make you strong, and NEVER GIVE UP.

Running To Myself: Part 3

The rest of that day was grueling...watching every competitor run in and out, watching every time show up on the clock, watching my fate being created. I was ready to find out where I stood. My faith had almost been lost the entire day, with my heart sinking and rising continually, but I had to remind myself that no matter how I finish, I am a champion. It was 11 pm by the time the running was finished, and the results were posted. I got out of the truck and walked up slowly, waiting for the crowd to subside. A mass of broken and ecstatic hearts surrounded me. One who lived in victory in being named one of the best, while many others walked away, hearts heavy. Finally, the crowd divided, and I remembered one last time, that no matter if my name was on that paper or not, I was a champion. I ran my hand down the list, name after name representing those who's hearts were heavy with defeat, crossed over my fingertips. I got to my name, and traced my finger left, and found a mark that brought me to tears instantly. I had done it. I had placed in the world championship finals. I came in fourth in my division, which meant I was walking away with a world title of a top five qualifier. I was mortified at the idea that all of these struggles had brought me to an ultimate high. I remembered that barrel that I touched, the scars of it, and how it related to me. I remembered the hospital, and the determination. I remembered my aunt's smile, and how she was beaming from heaven. I had the world on my shoulders and couldn't be any higher in elation with everyone that was there. I had done it. I ran to that world title...past my fears...past my myself.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Running To Myself: Part 2

I walked into the arena for the recognition ceremony, preparing for the run of my life. There was a barrel in the center, where each competitor would go and pray, one at a time. I was standing next to world champions that were on magazine covers all over the world, and I had the honor to compete among them. I waited until they called my name, and said where I was from. I walked up to that barrel, under it's spotlight, and looked at it. It had so many dents, scrapes, wasn't pretty anymore...but it was still standing. I thought of my life and how I am that barrel. I had blow after blow upon me, and yes, I was broken, but I was still standing. I laid my hands on that barrel and said a quick prayer for safety, and courage. I left that arena with a fire, a drive that had been rekindled in my heart. I went to saddle my horse for the final round, where I would either make it to the top, or lose it all. Fast forward one hour, and it was my turn. I was praying as my horse's heart was pounding, I was praying for the courage to do my best. They said my name, "From the land of champions, here comes your cowgirl, Andrea Traeger from Solon, Iowa." I looked up to the sky and dedicated this run one last time to my aunt. I ran in and before I knew it, I was done. I looked at the clock and my heart sank. I didn't have the run that I was hoping for. Suddenly, I felt like my work had amounted to nothing whatsoever. Now, it was up to the other runners, to see if I would make it in and make a placing in world standings. After a grueling day, I went to see my horse, who looked like he had tried his best, and was disappointed that I was disappointed. I petted him on the face and realized that I had come so far, no matter what happened.

Running To Myself: Part 1

I remember the first time I stepped foot in that arena, three years ago. I remember the smell, the cold air that ran through the building, the feeling of competition mixed with anticipation and excitement. After an entire year of pouring my heart into my training, bonding with my team mates, and getting up no matter what happens, had led me to this moment, where I felt a dream becoming real. I was at the National Barrel Horse Association World Championships. I felt the dirt under my feet, looking around, trying to picture myself running in this place...what an honor.

It had been an emotional roller coaster of a year, beginning with fierce competition and ending in a sudden death of a close family member. I knew this was going to be my redemption...a way to put it all behind me, and just run. Two months before I was set to compete at my first World Championships, I had a horse accident that left me with a broken wrist. I had managed to shoot my bone all the way up into my arm, which caused me a lot of pain, physically and emotionally. I remember laying in the hospital bed before surgery, crying. But I was not crying because I was hurting, I was not crying because I was in the hospital, I was crying because I saw my dreams crashing down in front of my eyes. What I had worked for so entirely hard, yearned for in all my free time, was slowly slipping away. Three days after I got out of surgery, we got a call from the hospital...but it was not for me. My aunt had been in a car accident, and had passed away. It all seemed like it happened so fast. First, I was broken, then my entire family was seemed like my whole world was fading out, as I had no one left to turn to. My aunt was my biggest supporter...though she didn't have a lot of money, she drove to my events whenever she could, constantly talked about me wherever she went, and called to ask about me and my horses weekly. After her funeral, I realized that I couldn't give up. Yes, I had a broken wrist, and a broken heart, but I couldn't let her down. I couldn't let myself let her down.

I put myself into overdrive in my rehibilitation. I worked and trained my horses like I had nothing else to live for. I did everything I possibly could to regain my strength in myself, and my sport. A month later, I was in Mississippi, horses in tow. I was standing in that arena, as grateful as I had ever felt. My arm was in a brace, and I was ready to do my best. The first race came, and I passed under the banner that read "through these doors will pass America's champions". I knew with my whole heart that I was truly a champion. I ran my horse and made the cut into world finals. I was ecstatic, and very thankful. After two more days of watching my competition, it was time for the run of my life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Decision

It can be so easy to get caught up in life, especially in high school. There is such a stereotypical view that we adopt befoe we even grace the halls. We see the cliques, the rumors, the separation that forces us to join a group, or be left to fend for ourselves. What happens when you get caught in the middle? Where do you go when you don't have anywhere left? The only place to go is up.

Coming from a small Christian school, I had a completely different view of my high school career to come. I believed that it would be easy to make friends, and they would understand me, and I would do all the things that every teenager does when they're in high school. Turns out, my plans didn't meet theirs peacefully, as I slowly slid into a place where I was alone. I couldn't see a problem with me, I didn't know what it was, what they saw, that turned them away, but for some reason, I was becoming the loner. What happened to having my friends who loved me and were there no matter what? What would I do without their support as I had to face this place by myself? I was terrified for the future, and quite broken over the idea of being an outcast. All I wanted was to fit in somewhere...anywhere.

But after a rocky freshman year, I came to the realization that this place is only a stop on my journey to where I DO belong. Sure, right now, I feel alone in what I believe, but someday, I can find a place where who I am is exactly what somebody needs. Somewhere where I can be appreciated. This place became my escape...away from the critism of certain classmates. I made a decision that changed my life. I turned everything around in an instant with a decision to let the adversity I face strengthen, instead of break me. I decided that this dream would be my reality someday, and I would work until I couldn't work anymore to get to this place I dreamed of. This place is beautiful, where I see myself using these struggles to further myself in my journey of life, where I can be a role model, and give encouragement to those kids are just like who I was when I got into high school. I decided on strength instead of weakness, and love instead of hate. This decision changed my life.

So I challenge you to look at your problems and hardships, and see them not as road blocks, but as road SIGNS, to point you to where you are to go next. I challenge you to take the pain and hate and turn it into a character building tool to make you the person you want to be, and set you on your road to who you are meant to be.

Coming Down To Earth

Dreams are a beautiful thing. They allow us to find something to go after, a purpose for our lives, a happy ending that we can strive for, but what about the distance between where you are and where that dream begins? I guess I could say that everyone deserves a shot at their dreams, which is true, but you can't expect them to come right to you. You look up at the people who have made their dreams come true, and it all looks glamorous, but behind all of the glitter, you see one person who worked extremely hard to get from where they were to where they wanted to be.

I take a look at the musicians who are out there right now. Their lives seem so crystal clear and perfect from here, but you have to remember that they have struggles too. Life is full of struggles, no matter where you go, but sometimes I forget. Remembering all the things they gave up, the time they spent, the tears, the fears, the trial and error, not feeling good all goes into the process of making it where you want to be.

When you are going after your dreams, you have to remember the reality as well. That is a key to success in whatever you pursue. Go in with an open mind, with ambitious goals, but also with a sound understanding of what you are throwing yourself into. I believe everyone has a chance to make it where they want to be....but only the hardworkers will pursue and succeed. Be that hardworker. Don't listen to what anyone says about you. Don't listen to anyone's critism...just go out there and work hard for what you desire.