Eighteen months ago, I would have sworn to you that I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Not precisely, of course, but I could have at least entertained you with the generalities of the inevitable future that patiently awaited my arrival.
I was going to live in Nashville, Tennessee. I was going to work on Music Row. I was going to become a Somebody on the business side of the music industry. And I was going to become friends with Carrie Underwood. (Fingers still crossed).
Eighteen months ago, I was counting the days until graduation so that I could finally make the move; after all, it was only two years earlier that I paid my enrollment fee to transfer from Mizzou to Belmont University, a move that would have allowed me to start my Music Row ascent as a 19-year-old kid. On the day that I changed my mind, I wrote that I was simply “putting my future on hold for a couple years.”
Even after I had accepted the post-graduation job that would take me to Western Australia, I made sure to sneak in a week of work with the Nashville crew, hoping to provide them, or perhaps myself, with a quick blast of reassurance that I’d soon be back for good.
How could I pass it up, I wondered, after all I had invested into the city, into the job, into the relationships, into the idea? And how could I go back, I now wonder, when I weigh that Music Row dream against the lofty, meaningful ambitions that have since flooded my mind.
It’s hard to think about Nashville and not wonder what could have been. This is a reflection not tied to regret, but, rather, to the time in my life when my destiny seemed so clear, so planned, so inevitable.
Who would I be had I listened to my mind rather than my gut?
Perhaps I’d be this precocious media whiz kid, dishing out hard-hitting questions to A-list artists, infiltrating their brains to unveil the true meaning behind some obscure phrase in an otherwise innocuous song.
Or perhaps I’d be a worn 22-year-old, trudging onward behind the letters of a keyboard and the washed-up glory of a life on Music Row.
Perhaps I would have embraced the array of dreamers and creators in a city that bursts of youthful inspiration, falling captive to the infallible and enduring trance of finely-mixed lyrics and melodies.
Or perhaps I’d have come to the same revelation that shortened my stint in Australia, that pedaling a piece of entertainment to a sliver of society is painfully unfulfilling and, in the scope of a more-worldly lens, debatably meaningless.
Perhaps I’ll someday regret straying from the promise of the Music City, wishing I’d have been warned about the costs that come with my fickle mind and fear of the known.
Or perhaps I’ll come to accept the axiom that numerous roads, even those anomalous in length and terrain, carry the same glimmer of happiness and the same opportunity for eternal fulfillment.
Perhaps I’ll live out this internal desire to actively contribute to the development of a safer, smarter, friendlier and more accepting society.
Or perhaps I’ll look back on these words in a decade or so, sipping normal-man’s coffee with a normal-man’s occupation in a normal-man’s suburb, laughing at the era when I thought I was bold enough or competent enough to leave a dent in the world.
Only then could regret seep in.