Nothing’s Good Enough
Nothing’s Good Enough
I quit. I give up.
Nothing’s good enough for anybody else
-Edie Brickell, “Circle of Friends.”
Everyday just as I was getting to work composing my boss came in and started ragging on me. “Listen to this piece of shit.” “I Don’t know what your problem is, but you gotta try harder.” “Whatever your old stuff had, you’ve lost it.”
He usually left after he’d had his say, and I’d get to work, get stuff done, though from time to time he’d poke his head in and give me a nasty look, just to make sure I wasn’t enjoying myself too much.
It was unfair. I was working as hard as I could. You’d think it would piss me off, that I might at least try for some snarky repartee, “If you think it’s so easy you try it.” “What brilliant stuff have you written lately?” If not one of my wife’s favorite Ohioisms, “Well fuck you and the horse you rode in on.” But it was my gig, my only gig. Anyone will tell you music is tough. Especially composing. You know anyone who hires composers? Didn’t think so.
So I just sucked it up. Except it made me totally miserable. I started believing that asshole, doubting my talent, my ability to do it any more.
When a good royalty check came you’d think he’d be happy, as it’s the usual 50/50 split. Sometimes he’d give me a pass for a few days, but more often it was, “Oh that’s just your old stuff performing on that check. Not this junk you’re writing now.”
It’s hard to believe, but it went on for years.
One day I quit. The funny thing is it wasn’t at all dramatic when I finally did it.
Because you see….I work for myself. That jerk that came to give me a hard time every morning was just some voice in my head, though admittedly a very loud one. My problem was that I didn’t know the boss was there, didn’t know he was talking. I thought he…was me.
Now I don’t suffer from multiple personalities, like the 17 faces of Eve, or whoever it was. I don’t have a 7 different guys and a couple of girls living in my head, some of them real psychos, never know when one or the other will pop out and put on some Southern accent or do something really crazy like steal a car or strip naked in Trader Joe’s and start singing Bee Gee’s songs. But I did go see a shrink about my problem, which is how I got to quitting.
I explained to her how I felt each morning, like I no longer wanted to do this thing I’d once loved more than most things in the world. How it was so painful. She said a simple thing, which when she said it barely registered, because it sounded like something I’d heard before. “What are your thoughts when you’re getting to work in the morning?”
I went back to torturing myself. I stopped seeing that shrink, didn’t find another one. Then one day I noticed that it wasn’t so bad. And it kept getting better. Somehow without even trying I’d taken her advice, started listening to the boss in my head. And just becoming aware of his critical thoughts – not the gloomy feelings he evoked, nor the lethargy in my body, but just his words – got me free.
My old boss shows up from time to time. He’s still a nasty fuck. Except he’s no longer my boss. I say, “Hey, why don’t you go get a job, ya bum?”