A few days ago I was watching a stream of an Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson interview with Google where he spoke about the reason The Roots gave up their close to 300 days a year of touring for a steady gig. ?uest explained that in their 40s it was the first time in their lives that they’d been able to have a consistent routine since they started the group in their late teens. They’d never been in the same place doing the same thing for more than a few days at a time, outside of making music.
Something about that struck me.
Though a career artist I always had a fortress of solitude, a place where I controlled both the keys and the doors, as long as I made the rent on time. Within that there was plenty of variation. In Brooklyn there was a different party every night. In LA there was more ground to cover than gas in your tank. In LA and DC there were worlds within worlds calling out for deep exploration. But within each there was always a flow, a flow that I held the remote for, a chain of events that I could thoroughly predict. Then that stopped.
For most of my miniature adulthood I believed that being a grownup was all about your choices, that we all actively decided who we were and who we’d become. Now I know that nothing can be further from the truth.
For most of the last seven years I’ve found myself marooned in other people’s spaces and being forced to live by their rules. Most were not lovers and even fewer were real friends. I woke up unbalanced, robbed of the certainty that used to plant me wherever I was. Someone else wore the captains hat. I just took the orders.
Nowadays I envy the Daywalkers, the 9 to 5 ers who live by the de j rules because its the only way they know. As I move out of one racket for another I am forced to make executive decisions about which extensions of me will grow, and which are expendable. It has me living in that moment when you know your boss is full of shit, but all you can do is murmured to yourself on the safety of your space, believing that you won’t be there forever.
Well this has felt like forever. But as the season is about to change I have to believe in the power of transformation. I have to believe in something beyond the day and the night ahead. I have to believe in the dawn of tomorrow.