I have lived a few versions of my life. Since I was little I had this uncontrollable desire to explore about my unknown potentials. What am I capable of? How many skills can I learn? Perhaps I could become a popular artist, a famous musician, the best photographer or a badass graphic designer? I dabbled on art, music, design, science, faiths, philosophies…I graduated from college with a graphic design degree. I became an art director in my 30s at a few motion graphics design studios doing big and cool projects. But after years and years in the daily grind, all I did was managing design teams, working 70 hours a week, non-stop writing PDFs to pitch for projects…I realized I have become a manager than an artist. Life has become so demanding and routine. “Is that definition of my dream life?” I questioned myself when every time when I stared at all the computers’ rendering in the studio at 4am to meet deadlines. “Fuck this!” I decided I need to a drastic change, began my next path to Everest and re-design my life 2.0.
I left my high salary position and dove into the unknown land of beauty and fashion photography and films. I had no mentor. I knew nothing about styling, makeup and hair. I stumbled. I fell. I shot some embarrassingly so-called fashion stuff. Above all, I was broke. But somehow, I kept shooting. I believe it takes one step at a time to climb this mountain. Slowly I met many great peers and friends join this journey together. I shot fashion week, directed films for big beauty brands, creative directed runway shows. If 10,000 hours rule applies to anything to become greatness, I just had my first touchdown after 8 years of unrelenting expedition. I am living in a dream loft and doing fun projects with talented and kind-hearted great friends. My 2.0 life is pretty great.
With all my visual skills and careers, there’s one thing above all that I am most obsessed with…it’s music. But it’s my most frustrating and discouraging dream that I had. For years, I have been trying to produce electronic music. I wanted to write something cool. But there’s always something missing with all my tracks. Unlike my visual skills, I was never satisfied and happy with my music. This frustration has lasted for too long.
On 2013, February 17. Sunday. It’s a sunny but a cold afternoon in Brooklyn. The black snow outside was shoveled to the sidewalks. New Yorkers were not particularly happy with this long winter. I was pacing around in my home like a self-talking homeless man in Union Square. “I should just give up.” I mumbled to myself. On this cold sunday I decided it’s time to walk away from my years of failed attempts in music. After all, I barely know how to play a keyboard any. I only know 7 chords in A minor scale (the white keys). What could I really do in the long run?
It was 6pm. The cold sun was setting. The last evening of this defeated aspiring musician was approaching. But out of the blue I had this idea of a song about a mountaineer on his journey to the highest peak. “Oh, well. What the hell…let me just write this one last track.” Instead of how I usually tried to write cool beats, I sat down and wrote out how I felt the very first time. The song was finished in surprisingly merely four hours. It was somehow quite effortless unlike my usual struggles. I sent this track to share with my singer friend Danielle Parente who left New York for 3 months to lock herself up in Los Angeles to write music. In the email, I wrote a paragraph of description of the song…
“On top of the mountain
Drifting cold wind
Cloud is beneath my feet
The sun is on the new horizon
At this moment…
I wish you were here with me”
I named this song “Everest”. I was emotionally drained and tired. I quickly fell asleep.
Next morning, I got an email. Danielle replied the email in the middle of the night. The email was sent with a mp3 file. She was inspired by the song and sang out the words. Uncontrollable tears pouring down on my face when I listen to my words through her voice. There’s something…called emotions…that I have never felt with my music. At that moment, I realized I should never consider giving up on my dream, my obsession. Never give up on something that I truly love. Thank you, Danielle!
I began relentlessly to write music everyday…to write from the heart. I had no formal music training. With my limited knowledge of 7 chords in A minor scale, I started to write music from my heart and raw emotions through the aid of technology and meticulous programming. It’s like a sci-fi fairy tale, overnight I see matrix like Neo. To my surprise, my sound is very cinematic and emotional. I can now effortlessly write as my heart desire like a flood pushes over a boulder. I pushed the button and opened the pandora box that I never knew.
Life is never the same since then. My music has become the foundation for many aspects of my life and my work. Throughout my path of 1.0, 2.0 to now 3.0, I fully understand all that matter is to listen to my heart. When you feel like you got nothing left in you to go further in reaching your Everest, try one more step…one more song, one more climb, one more race, one more fight…You might be surprised what would be opening for you next. What is your Everest?