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Sometimes I Wish I Was A Musician

Looking through the fence at another path.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic- I believe it’s probably normal for all artists from time to time to wish they pursued a different medium — to longingly look back in time to that fork in the road where they chose THEIR art and traveled down it all the way. This is kind of a nostalgic, quasi-regretful thought, as you know that you can’t go back and take another path. To jump between styles is possible, to jump between mediums, no way. There is just not enough time in life for that.

But that’s okay. One of the joys choosing a path is that it’s at the expense of all other paths. It’s YOUR path, it’s what defines you. To jump back and forth between paths is to not get anywhere — you have your teens and early twenties for jumping, by 38 your path is set.

I chose writing. That eventually blended with video (I know what I’m talking about when I blab about the perils of jumping mediums). But every once in a while I hear a song and it’s like, that said IT. That said IT in such a perfectly magical way that there is really nothing left to say. I then feel that silence that comes when IT has been said.

Then I ask myself, can I say IT like that with my prose and journalism and stories?

I think about it. I envision it. But it’s never IT.

The medium is just different. All mediums operate in their own ways. They are their own beasts.

The goal of all art is to make people feel. It’s not to make them think. It’s not to make them believe. It’s to make them feel.

Nothing can make you feel like a song. It’s the meeting of musical sound and language. One rivets the heart and the other the head. It happens at the same time and you feel the image that’s being projected. It blends with the time that you are experiencing and becomes a part of your present reality.

I can’t do that and it makes me jealous. All I have is words. Sometimes words are not enough.

This was one of the reasons why I was drawn to video a couple of years ago. Video is the combination of language and sound and visuals. I thought of it as a complete art form. But it still can’t stand next to a good song.

Filed under: Essays, Music

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3535 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Rob June 23, 2019, 2:17 am

    I read a piece not too long ago that talked of learning skills (I don’t recall where I read it). The thought was that any skill could be learned, even music. All you have to do is practice.
    Talent is something that makes learning a skill easier.
    We live long enough to have the time to try different things, maybe the next time you need a change you’ll take up music?

    All that said talent would sure help my wood carving… I know it’s easier to practice if you have a little talent for it!

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    • Wade Shepard June 23, 2019, 4:13 pm

      That’s true. But staying in your swim lane, progressing with the art you have chosen is the only way to really get somewhere. Not until you get to the top can you burn it all down and start over. Jumping across the fence is to stay at the bottom. That said I appreciate other arts and I think about what would have been if I’d chose another. However, I could play music but it was never my talent. Part of choosing your art is taking what you’re given and going as far as you can with it.

      Good on you for the wood carving! That’s a cool trade to take up.

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      • Trevor June 24, 2019, 5:57 pm

        “But staying in your swim lane, progressing with the art you have chosen is the only way to really get somewhere…”
        but u can attack the same project from a different angle. which is different from jumping fences…. i failed to reach Gunung Rinjani using the popular route… a few years later i made it using the harder, longer route. 12 hrs 10 mins up and down. its a 5 day hike normally.

        so if the aim is to make a living and , u fail, like me trying to do it by blogging, i can make a living as a mailman… same goal. different plan of attack

        am i going off on a tangent here??

        i would love to be able to play the guitar

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        • Wade Shepard June 25, 2019, 7:58 pm

          Right on! There is a difference between jumping ship and choosing a new plan of attack. At first, I viewed focusing on video as a new plan of attack, but I had no idea how involved a pursuit it would become!

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