Ever heard the phrase, “don’t die with the music still in you?”
The fortune cookie version basically means to not die without fulfilling your inner inspirations. They’re those incessant callings you might have and always reveal to you a larger purpose to your life when followed. And perhaps reveal an even greater loss when not.
I ignored them for a time until I felt my gut sinking from a dreadful realization. I was on a path to live the rest of my life with the ever so glittering and increasingly comfortable “golden handcuffs.”
The money was good but I was GOING TO DIE WITH THE MUSIC STILL IN ME!
I was a financial advisor and owned my own practice. My office was the corner office on the upper floors in a “prestigious” area of West LA, overlooking Wilshire Blvd..
Since I first started playing guitar as a freshman in college I discovered this soul-yearning desire to spend my days dedicated to music. And not just as a hobby.
You know those activities and subjects you just enjoy doing and learning about? Where you find yourself growing? And you have this never-ending supply of energy and motivation? Where a sense of time, and even you, would disappear?
That is music to me.
So I did what any “responsible” 22 year old college grad would do. I put off what I REALLY wanted to do and instead started a business as a financial advisor.
I suppose you could say putting off music and becoming a financial advisor is what I really wanted to do. Because it’s what I actually chose.
But that was the crucial point on my path where I, perhaps, unknowingly took a detour to where I actually wanted to go. It was the long route filled with brushes, backtracking, and cow poo. And it would take me eight long years to get back to the trail I actually want, and appropriately equipped, to be on.
You see, I had this idea that I’d first put all my energy and focus into building a business. I was to make millions, then retire early and dedicate the rest of my life to music and my callings. All by the age of 30.
Seemed reasonable, right?
Holy shit that was an undertaking!!
To build a business from scratch and get complete strangers to trust you with their hard-earned money and, essentially, their lives is no joke!
It was like committing to a hike while naively thinking, “it’ll be just an easy stroll over a few hills.” But not realizing the deep canyons and steep mountain passes along the way you must overcome.
At the same time, trying to muster the motivation to keep going when your heart isn’t even really there to provide constant energy was an added challenge.
Nonetheless, I pushed through with willpower and love. I have respect for my work and my clients and so I provided quality advice and service.
And I was successful at it. Started making good money, bought a couple of properties including a penthouse in a “desirable zip code,” a whole lot of music equipment, a few toys, a girlfriend and even a Rolex (cliché, I know 😎 ). Business was good.
And I certainly was appreciating it all, for the relationships, for all I was learning. I wouldn’t have all these bushwhacking and cow poo ninja skills if it weren’t for all that.
It’s just that…
There never seemed to be enough money for me to feel secure to focus on just music. Like a mirage, “THE END IS JUST RIGHT THERE!!!”
Buuutttt, it’s not.
Even worse, as I stepped into the office every morning I had this nagging feeling that “this” is not what I’m supposed to be doing. Like the worst mosquito bite on the thinnest skin of your ankle on the John Muir Trail, THE ITCH JUST WOULD NOT GO AWAY!
It was the tiny pebble I left in my shoe because I didn’t want to STOP and address it. Only now it has left blisters on my soul, both literal and metaphorical. And with every step forward the agony intensified.
Imagine having a major case of FOMO, but instead it’s the fear of missing out on YOUR OWN life! That’s where I was.
In retrospect a part of me wanted to prove I can do it. What “it” was I’m not so sure anymore, but “it” was important to me at the time, I remember.
It had something to do with proving to the matrix world and myself I could succeed even in the boxes they deem as “legitimate”… or something.
I began noticing a few peers who were in the business much longer than I. They were making great money but seemed to have lost that spark in their eye, that pep in their step, and a sense of curiosity and adventure. I was deeply aware that my noticing them was MY own understanding of where I was heading.
That was a punch to the face!
I observed my clients, people I’ve helped FOR YEARS invest and plan for their future. They did not actually get what they said they wanted!
As their financial advisor, it was my business to know and then document what it is they want and need. Clients told me they want to not have to worry and just enjoy life. They want (financial) freedom and security. They desire to do things like travel the world and take their grandkids to Disneyland. Or just the ability to finally pursue their passions but had been putting off till when they had enough time and money… till when they were “finally secure.“
Even I agreed that was the “wise” thing to do. After all “I” was the professional. That’s what they paid me to do!
Yet, even though clients did all the “right” things, saved and invested, even hired the professional, they STILL did not get what they said they wanted.
Worries remained but morphed from “will I have enough money for retirement?,” to, “will taxes and inflation eat away at my savings and ability to survive?”
Quite funny yet expectedly the building of inheritances revealed greedy relatives and family wars. This just created more “problems” to fix and protect against.
Not saying any of this is worthless. There’s great value in hiring a financial advisor who’s dedicated and loves the profession. Especially if financial subjects are not your cup of tea.
But the irony was that their financial plan’s purpose and the reason clients hired me was to ensure they’d have enough money for the rest of their lives. And then to protect their wealth with additional layers of protection. All done with the least amount of risk to the client.
In many cases, they could never even outspend their growing investments!
What was the point all this, ultimately?
I was told in one way or another it was to feel secure, freedom, joy. Clients wanted to have the ability to follow their dreams and do things and give to others without worry.
Yet worries endured. Peace of mind and respite after years of planning and saving never came.
Some clients ended up spending DECADES putting off their true joys.
A few became sick and passed away just shortly into their retirement. A book dedicated to Elvis was never written (Elvis was one of my client’s favorite musicians and inspirations, and always talked about writing a biography about him. My client died before he could write it).
I was starting to see that we were trying to solve a deeper, perhaps even spiritual, problem through financial planning. And that no amount of doing the “right” thing at the level of the world would solve this.
It’s like trying to dry up the kitchen floor while the sink is overflowing and faucet still running – you put in a whole lot of time and effort for an ineffective solution, in a place where the cause of the problem is somewhere else.
I was at a crossroads. How can I now authentically sell a solution that, as I saw it, doesn’t really work?!
I was beginning to feel a lack of integrity and conviction on my part.
And now, having been experiencing it for myself and seeing it first hand through my clients, how can I continue making the same choices to put off my callings in exchange for illusions of future safety?!
The internal discomfort I felt from not following that urge became far greater than the fear of “not surviving.”
It was becoming clear that there was more purpose to music for me than just that it’s extremely fun to play. But that it’s through music I’m able to decode life. Everybody has their own. It’s where you feel closest to your source, spirit, your true self, god, dog, whatever names you give this state where all seems right and all is flowing.
Financial planning was coming NOWHERE CLOSE to touching the depths of my soul the way music does!
I saw I had FAR MORE to lose if I were to stay in the business and not pursue my true callings.
So I put EVERYTHING on the line.
I gave up everything. Sold my thriving business, Penthouse in Westwood, furniture, all but two of my suits, my girlfriend (kidding, sort of), the Rolex, and just about everything I owned to follow wherever inspiration takes me… To bring out the music from inside and not die with it still there.
Except literally in my case 😂
Everyone has their own “music,” be it going on adventures, being a parent, starting a business, writing an Elvis biography, or even financial advising!
I think part of the journey is discovering what YOUR “music” is, specific to you and your grand adventure of life.
And then to go do it!
That leap of faith doesn’t seem so scary when you could see the actual danger of not following your callings. You could end up spending years chasing a mirage, trudging through a desert you don’t have to be in. And you miss out on a path that’s specific to and natural for you. A path that brings you satisfaction, a sense of purpose, growth, and experiences beyond your wildest imagination.
You can tell when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. That nagging voice that won’t leave you alone finally goes away, and instead replaced with silence and creativity.
Don’t die with the music still in you, friend!
I know you may be feeling that deep urge to be more of who you’re meant to be and live the life you really want.
I know a part of you might feel like life is slipping away, and you don’t want to die with your “music” still in you.
We want people to break free from the matrix and be who they were meant to be.
My homie Todd Lamansky and I wrote a song about this very thing. It’s about going back to your true, natural, wild self. Not the “self” programmed into you by others, but your true desires and wants that naturally energize you from within.
The song is called “Back To The Wild” and it’s currently in the production phase for the new MICHELLION album (released Summer 2023). If you’d like to support this song and the album you can “buy me a coffee” here:
Much love 🦁