Of all the sensitive muso-type clichés there are – and they bring new ones out every year – one I’ve been particularly guilty of is seeing myself as having been born into the wrong era.
Music just isn’t the same these days, I’ll sit and think. I’d have been so much better off in late 60s Laurel Canyon. There’s nothing I can do here…
And then I wake up and I slap myself on the wrist. Because the notion that you or I were born into any other time than the perfect time is a ridiculous one, and I see it as part of my civic duty to rid the world of as many ridiculous notions as possible.
“Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result – eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly – in you.”Bill Bryson – “A Short History of Nearly Everything”
Don’t you see? This is your time. It has to be.
I’ll forgive you the occasional flirtation with the idea that you might have fared better in the 20s, or the 60s, or even a few centuries ago, or even in Ancient China… but make sure flirting is as far as it goes. Keep those hands above the waist. Leave room for Jesus.
Because you don’t have time to waste – you have work to be done in the present. And I’ll tell you what that work is… helping shape this era, the one you actually find yourself in.
You can’t do anything in those other eras, because you weren’t there. Or then. But you are here. And now. So you can either waste your life lamenting that fact, or you can get on with something in the here and now, where you actually have some sway.
Whenever you are, that’s when you were meant to be.
One final thing: if you genuinely feel with all your heart that you were born into the wrong era, and nothing I say can convince you otherwise, then my advice is to go 100% as deep as you can into that impulse. Turn what I’m telling you is a limiting belief into art. As Ryan Holiday says in The Obstacle is the Way, “Every negative has a positive. Push a negative hard enough and deep enough that it will break through into its counterside.”
The best people in the world have a timeless essence. Whatever it is that makes them unique has very little to do with the times they live in. But they are still nevertheless born into one era or another.
You might as well make the most of yours, since it’s the only one you’ll ever have.