Sunday, May 2, 2010


One year of doctoral training in the bag. One step closer to this new goal. This year has taught me a lot. I've come to realize something about myself. There's something that I always knew, but wasn't ready to acknowledge until now. I chose to leave the music scene behind. I made a decision, at some moment in time, that the cost of being a full time musician was too much for me to pay. I don't remember the moment exactly, but I know that there was that moment. Maybe it was way back in music school when my improv teacher told me it would take several more hours of practice everyday in order to get to the next level. I knew I liked practicing, but not that much. Maybe it was when my wife got sick and quit working. I shut down the record label I was running at the time and went to work at a psych hospital in order to feed the family. Maybe it was when I was in grad school and I started to actually like helping people as much as I liked creating music. At some point, plan B became plan A. But, until this year, I didn't know what that meant for me. One year of training toward the goal of becoming a psychologist has taught me one thing. It taught me that that decision was a good one.

I used to be a jazz trumpet player. I loved to play the trumpet. I wanted to be Miles Davis. I wanted to be Clark Terry. I loved the trumpet. Then I heard Paul Simon and it rocked my world. I realized that I just loved music. I began writing and producing music. Not just jazz, but all kinds of music. I wasn't a trumpet player. I was a musician. Then, on a whim, I studied a little bit of photography and poetry. Once again, world-rocking revelation. I'm not a musician. I'm an artist. I love creating art. Any art. All art.

That's where I was for a really long time. Until a few months ago, I suppose. In my years in social service, I kind of went through my work posing as a helping professional. It wasn't my identity. I liked it, but it wasn't "me." I was, after all, an artist waiting to get back to his art. But this year something changed. Somewhere along the past year, I figured it out. There's a reason I left music behind. There's a reason I love photography as a side job. There is a reason that plan B always seems to work and plan A always goes the way it does. Its because plan B was supposed to be plan A all along. I was born to do what I'm doing. The creativity in me is my built in defense against the crazy making experiences I've had.

When I look back on the crazy set of events that has been my life, I can come to only one conclusion. I'm supposed to be helping people. I've walked through the fire. I've been crazy. I've been poor. I've come out on the other side. And now I'm supposed to show folks the way. Thats my job.

The thing that I always loved about music and art is that it stimulated me in a way that nothing else did. My brain tingles when I am being creative. When I'm making music, or snapping pictures, or writing, its like I'm talking to God. As a psychologist, I'm in the unique position to be creative while also helping people. I get that same tingly feeling when I'm researching self-efficacy among black teens. I get it when I'm in the room with a client and I can see them making a break through. When I am presenting at a conference, I get the same rush I did on stage with my horn in my hand.

There's that world-rocking revelation again. I'm not a jazz trumpet player. I'm not a musician. I'm not an artist. I'm not even a psychologist. I don't think I fit in with the nerds in the psych department any more than I did with the artsy folks at music school. And maybe thats the thing. The stuff inside me is God's special formula for something. I'm not yet sure what. But a year of doctoral training has taught me one thing. Whatever it is that I'm about to do, I'm ready for it. And I think I'm gonna like it.

1 comment:

  1. How touching! Those children are blessed to have such a caring and nuturing father. And you might not feel as if things have gone according to plan. I ask, whose plan? And I also ain't over :)