Photo by Nolan Knight.
I really want to preface the last couple years of my life with this Taoist proverb, which I'll tie back into at the end of my story.
The Tigers and the Strawberry
There was a man walking across an open field, when suddenly a tiger appeared and began to give chase. The man began to run, but the tiger was closing in. As he approached a cliff at the edge of the field, the man grabbed a vine and jumped over the cliff. Holding on as tight as he could, he looked up and saw the angry tiger prowling out of range ten feet above him. He looked down. In the gully below, there were two tigers also angry and prowling. He had to wait it out. He looked up again and saw that two mice, one white, the other black, had come out of the bushes and had begun gnawing on the vine, his lifeline. As they chewed the vine thinner and thinner, he knew that he could break at any time. Then, he saw a single strawberry growing just an arms length away. Holding the vine with one hand, he reached out, picked the strawberry, and put it in his mouth. It was delicious.
I've been touring full time for the past three years, which I'd say are definitely the most challenging years to date. I've been adjusting to growing up in this profession I am pursuing. All my friends from high school went straight to college after graduation and I felt like that was the next step for me because that's what everyone around me was doing. So I tried college for a semester, but it just wasn't for me. At the time I was in the tail end of a long term relationship, and found out the news my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer.
2015 was my first actual attempt at doing this full time. I quit my two jobs, dropped out of school and released what would become my first EP, Glow. I was 18 when I wrote the record, and on my birthday I signed a recording contract to InVogue Records. Briefly after the release of Glow, I went out on my first tour booked completely DIY. It was a two week tour, and I went by myself. After the end of my year in 2014, touring alone was really therapeutic for me. I got to really know myself again, and I felt really great. 2015 finished out great, just a lot of new things with touring that made me look forward to every day.
2016 seemed like it was going to be off to a great start. I had a tour booked with Sundressed on the west coast. Two days before the tour was over, we woke up at the hotel in Salt Lake City to find our trailer no longer attached to the van. I can't describe how empty my heart felt to wake up and see that. Instant defeat.
February of 2016 came around and to this date it was the worst month of my life. My mom, whom I was very close to, passed away from colon cancer. This shook me to my very core. I've never been vocal about my mental health outside of my music, but after the news of this, I was the most depressed and emotionally drained I've ever been.
In April of 2016, I had this moment where I realized that music will last forever and me and everyone else will die one day, which really affected the writing process of the new record. A lot of it was done before my mom passed, but after her passing I wanted to rewrite songs to make them more introspective and actually write about feelings instead of writing about relationships which has been done a million times.
Fast forward through the writing process of the record, and straight to September of 2016. The time was finally here. The release of my debut LP. One of the best months of my life. All my emotions from the last two years of touring full time in one perfect bundle with my name on it.
Something I've learned about myself is that my mental health is never stable and most likely never will be. Some people have to take a pill or go to a therapist, and that's totally fine. I've learned over the last couple years asking for help is not weak.
The proverb I included in the beginning of this is something that I've been thinking about a lot recently since a friend showed it to me. I really relate the last couple years of my life to that proverb. In the worst moments of life, there is always something to look forward to, and make the best of any situation.