I’ve been cleaning out my house a la Marie Kondo for quite some time now, largely because I’ve been going in her order of things and haven’t gotten past books and papers. Being a writer and musician, books and papers comprise much of what I own.
So there I was last night, grabbing a stack of folders I had diligently organized a long time ago and had never looked at again since.
Most of the folders contained contracts and old royalty statements, so I really wasn’t emotionally caught up in the cleaning out. I was just trying to determine if there was something I would ever need to refer to again. And I was being rather blasé about the whole thing.
Next up was a folder of letters. Letters I had sent with accompanying cassette tapes in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Letters sent on my behalf with accompanying cassette tapes or later, CD’s. Letters asking for meetings or telling me to try contacting so and so. Letters in reply to all those efforts, signaling a hard pass, which is putting it mildly. People who are interested usually call, so the paper trail I was left with was proof positive of, well, my failures.
I suppose I could take solace in the knowledge that most of these people are dead now, but even that provided little comfort, just momentary amusement.
I’m someone who doesn’t much believe in coincidences or happenstance. I’m more of a meant to be in this time and place kind of gal.
So what did it say about me that I kept 30 year old rejection letters? And why was I finding them now?
I was simultaneously reminded of a person and a time from which I felt far removed, while having a knee-jerk reaction of the disappointment I felt when I initially received each one of those letters.
No matter how far we’ve come in life, I think there are moments that catch us off-guard and grant us the opportunity both to grieve and to acknowledge.
I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this wasn’t 1988 or I’d still be a size 6, in my twenties, with zero sense of self-worth and no idea that I looked that hot.
I took a moment to think about what I wanted to tell younger version of myself.
First, I thanked her for having the strength and fortitude to stay with it when there seemed to be no earthly reason to do so. The kind of perseverance it took to do that for the decades it took to finally have a freakin’ hit song is the stuff of Olympic capability.
I believe things play out the way they are supposed to. I wish I could have known what I brought to the table sooner, chased less, enjoyed more. I wish I could have had more fun and taken myself and the music business a whole lot less seriously. I couldn’t.
It took me a long time to laugh. It took forever for me to understand that I could write hooky mindless dribble that made money and still write what my soul was put on earth to do. Things can coexist. I wish I knew that then.
I can’t remember why I held on to all those rejection letters, if it was to say, “Fuck you, I did it!” when I finally did, or maybe just to torture myself with some self-doubt for a lot of years until I’d had enough. Either way, last night, I decided it was time to officially let it go.
These days, I don’t remind myself of what saddened or hurt me, but rather what I’ve accomplished and what there is to celebrate. I don’t have to wonder if I will ever…fill in the blank. I already did a lot of those things, and truth be told, many weren’t what they were cracked up to be, which was also part of the lesson.
These days, my fulfillment is in the moments shared person to person, soul to soul, song to song.
And I would tell my younger self, “Be mindful of what you choose to hold onto. Let it be what was triumphant, joy-filled, and magnificent about the journey.”
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