(or) Could a Change in Scenery Transform me into Soundgarden Guitarist Kim Thayil?
Over the course of running a literary agency for seven years, I had two employees. Both of them wanted office space, but my business partner and I didn’t think it was worth the investment. We shared the same view: if we could build a business from scratch working out of our respective cluttered apartments, it was clearly about work ethic and not setting. Close some big deals and then we’ll talk about an office. We didn’t get the space and neither of those agents lasted more than eighteen months. Did I learn anything from this?
How interesting that I’m working on a book now that highlights my history of looking for geographic solutions to problems. The essence is that wherever I go, there I am, and that moving isn’t going to solve any problems. Yet here I am, having just moved, and I couldn’t feel better or more productive.
I rarely procrastinate, I can’t stand clutter, and I love to play guitar and sing along with friends. So how could I explain that I’ve put off compiling a song book–lugging around loose pieces of paper and not having a list of my songs–for more than two years? Because I didn’t have a proper desk? Because my front door led to a hallway rather than a patio? Sounds kind of lame and, in fact, these are the very type of excuses I would call out others for.
My friend Hajjar taught me that there is no such thing as an objective reality. Nothing is real or has significance without the stories we attach. I could have stayed in my old apartment and continued to believe that geography doesn’t solve problems. Or I could have created a new story that points to clarity of intention, patience, and knowing myself well enough to put myself in the best situation to be happy. I looked for a place for more than six months, knowing that I wanted the following:
-A detached house with no shared walls and private outdoor space.
-A garden, an aloe vera plant and a compost pile.
-A quiet, non-transient neighborhood that made me feel grounded.
-Lots of natural night and an open, uncluttered feel.
-A separate space/nook so my “office” was set off from my living space.
I found this special house in Santa Monica, with all those things and more, for the same price I was paying for my old apartment in Venice. I’ve been here ten days, and the book, with 115 songs, has been copied and bound. I’ve been writing up a storm and feeling fantastic. While I know that moving won’t “fix” anything and that, indeed, here I am, I am feeling that being in the right home can lead to serenity and productivity…and we’ll soon see what else.
I was at the gym yesterday reading an article about Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil in the L.A. Times that affirmed my new story. “Thayil was reportedly feeling uncomfortable in the recording studio’s sterile setting, and it showed in his playing. To better re-create the comfy living room where he worked out his band’s punishing, sludgy guitar riffs, he had his own couch moved into the studio’s live room. He nailed his riffs after that. What’s the lesson here…? Making art requires the right setting.”
Does that mean my new house could turn me into Thayil on guitar?
For those who have heard me play, please stop laughing out loud. But I do have a new story about the importance of living in the right home and may need plastic surgery to remove the smile from my face.
If you have a desire to learn guitar, keep in mind that I’ve put together this list over the past fifteen years of songs that are both easy to play on guitar and fun to sing along with. With much gratitude, I present “Dink’s Greatest Hits.”
It only took six years, but I finally see why my employees wanted an office. They understood well before I did the importance of the right setting. Thus, I’ll make the same offer to them that I’ll make to you: write your favorite sing-along song in the box below and I’ll email you the complete list of “Dink’s Greatest Hits.”