Garden lights cast a warm, yellowish tint on my book and me. The breeze causes my hair to tickle my cheek. I can’t see much through screen except some lights of the city off in the distance. This is probably my favorite room in the house. The floor is slanted like many add-ons to a house this old. The house itself is small. At least, smaller than we need. We struggle to fit our lives into its seven rooms and there’s a dozen or so things I would prefer to add to (or take away from) this house.
I love my car. It’s a little older. A Honda Element – perfect for a musician. The driver side window doesn’t let down. It’s got some creaks and groans but it runs great and saves my gear from being packed into overly tight spaces during the rigors of gig life.
There are about a hundred things (give or take) that I figured would be different about my life at this age (35). When I was 20, I figured I would be a rock star living in New York and touring the world. In my mid twenties, I thought in 10 years I would be raising a kid or two while freelancing and composing (in New York or, at least, the North East). In my late 20s, I was stuck. I didn’t know what I was going to be or do.
Then came my 30s. Particularly, my early and mid 30s.
In my dream job – Music Director at a large modern church – yet struggling with the tension of being in a town I didn’t connect with. Burdened by a need to move and the unsettling awareness that I had no idea where to go. It wasn’t like before when my wife and I would just pick up and move. We had a kid now and it freaked us out.
I was eventually forced to ask myself what I would consider success. What would make me happy?
Not money. Not possessions. Two things: Family. Music.
Music is what I am on Earth to do. Period. I have no doubt about that. I knew that I wanted to be a very present husband and father. The rest? Doesn’t matter. None of it.
We moved to Atlanta. Found this little, wonderful house. It’s small but bigger than a lot of people have. God or the universe or whatever you want to credit keeps me busy doing work I love. The bills are paid and my family and I have, very literally, never been this happy.
So what’s the point?
To be successful, sometimes you have to redefine success. We live simply and transparently. No keeping up with the Joneses. We value family and loving what you do. And we do. Happiness didn’t come until we adapted our lives to fit it.
What is your definition? What you think it is may be what’s stopping you from living your dream. And, ultimately, being happy.