Are You Killing Yourself for Your Art?

You might know that I’m also a musician. I’ve been at it for 20 years now (damn). I’ve put out some records and played some pretty amazing shows over those years… all under the influence of alcohol and drugs. It truly does come with the territory and I marked my territory like a drunken, territorial ram. Always singing my misery – if not into a microphone, then into a bottle.

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Photo by Dave Meister

It seems that I’ve always needed some extra courage to get in front of a crowd. Hell, I’ve needed extra courage to simply get in front of my microphone at rehearsal or to take even the smallest steps outside of my comfort zone. That courage always came in the form of liquid or smoke, which I truly believed that all great artists needed. If they didn’t, I would dismiss them as lame. Even sober members of my bands just “didn’t get it” and, in my opinion, would never really “get it” because of their lack of a useful buzz to “open their mind” or get the creative juices flowing.

In reality, if you can’t “get” or perform your chosen art without a crutch; alcohol, drugs, unhealthy food, ego, etc. you need to question why you found the passion in the beginning. Think back to when you felt those butterflies in your stomach for the very first time over a certain song, painting or sculpture. Think back to when you thought that you found your calling. Think back to when you felt magic for the first time. Did your daydreams about the future involve killing yourself in order to become the dream?

Let it be known that the alcohol and drugs were helpful in getting me to actually try my hand at music. If not for them, I would’ve never attempted to be a lead singer in a band. I thank them for that. But the pain and misery that my using caused myself and others over the years makes me question how much time I wasted. How much hateful, ego-filled lyrics I wrote on paper with the wrong intention. How much beautiful music, life and time I wasted by, well, being wasted.

Change was always boiling beneath the surface for me. I always attempted to “balance” the bad with what I thought was a decent diet and some form of exercise. On one side of the scale was an elephant, the other side, a feather. Note that if you are trying to balance out your life to keep room for drugs, alcohol or unhealthy food, there’s a good chance that you have a problem. I remember very vividly walking around a health food store while being hungover, choking on my own dried and swollen tongue and daydreaming about being a fit, health-conscious guy, who felt and looked good. A guy who would grab a smoothie and spend the night staying in and watching a movie instead of grabbing bottles off a bar and watching myself fade into eventual demoralization. A guy who didn’t have to drink again.

My answer to loneliness was solitude. My answer to hangovers was more alcohol. My answer to life was to disengage.

It’s hard to imagine those days now.
It’s hard to fathom ever going back to them.

I’m becoming the person that I dreamt of being. Seriously, it’s actually happening. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all a dream, is it? I wake each day and think of what I now have and count my blessings. I work hard and dedicate my life to helping others. I’ve found some serenity and peace of mind. It’s gorgeous. It’s brilliant. It’s obtainable for everyone.

Do you have that feeling, a need for peace of mind and change that’s boiling beneath the surface? Know that you’re not alone. I’ve been there, and trust me, the here and now is light years better than there. Is life perfect? No. There’s no such thing as perfection. The journey to change may take years… or never happen at all. Just seek it out, you can find your way. I just want to promise you that it’s possible. If the road you’re traveling makes you miserable, take a detour and get some help; change your diet, start exercising, try meditation, wake up earlier, practice gratitude, think about those who depend on you. Think back to when you felt the magic.

Fight for yourself. Fight for your art. Fight for your passion.

Be well.

 

 

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Christopher Hostetler is the founder of Do Not Die Young – Integrative Health & Nutrition Coaching. He’s a proud father, gunshot survivor, musician, writer and Muay Thai enthusiast residing in Los Angeles. He has made self evolution through nutrition, lifestyle, and mental and physical wellness his life’s work.

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