Fool's GoldMay 27, 2022
One time, in choir camp…
When I was a kid, I used to spend two weeks every summer at a choir camp in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada mountains. It was a pretty typical summer camp, I suppose…filled with music theory, rehearsals, choreography, and campfire opera stories. Every kid grew up with this, right? ;-)
We also did more typical kid things: arts and crafts, hiking, and swimming in the nearby Feather River.
One hundred and thirty years earlier, Feather River (and, in fact, the whole area) had been crawling with prospectors and miners in the California Gold Rush - all trying to find a precious resource. There was gold in them thar hills.
Today, you can still find gold in Feather River. Not much anymore, but it is still there. I loved to wade in the shallows and watch gold flecks float in the water as my feet disturbed the sand. I would pretend I was a princess in a land where the streets were paved with gold. There is something truly magical about believing the very ground you are walking on is precious.
The Bard tells us, "All that glitters is not gold," and in fact, most of the glittery stuff that I saw in the water was iron pyrite, or Fool's Gold. (If you do find gold in the river, most likely it will NOT be floating, because gold is much denser!)
The older kids delighted in telling the younger kids about pyrite. "It's not real gold," they would declare with an air of authority, bursting the bubbles of dreamers like me. It became a rite of passage of sorts, for California kids to learn what real gold looks and feels like, so we could identify it if we ever came across it again.
As an adult, I see imitations and knockoffs everywhere, from "catfish" to Dogecoin. In a post-truth, short-attention-span society, seems like everyone is trying to be the flashiest thing in the water, just to make a quick buck or get their 15 minutes of fame.
But if you want lasting and sustainable success, especially as a musician, you need to stop trying to imitate others and use your own unique voice to stand out. Your uniqueness is your most precious resource: your gold.
So, how do you mine for that gold?
You need to dig deep.
It won't simply emerge every time you stir things up.
If you kick up some sparkly fun along the way, don't discount it. Let it fuel your imagination.
Let it help you believe that the very ground you are walking on is precious.
Because the truth is that your gold is right under your feet. Inside your veins. Flowing through your heart.
You just have to learn what it looks and feels like.
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