Being Better

I recently resigned from my “day job” as Program Coordinator for the WWU Music Department. I’m now spending all my time trying to be a one-person music/sound-making business. This is scary as hell, and I don’t know if it will be successful, but I have a lot of plans to at least make success a lot more likely in the long run, and I have a lot of folks that have been helping me out along the way. In some ways it’s like I’m going back to school; training myself in a lot of details I never got a chance to learn while I was so busy in school and at work.

One thing I’ve been attempting to train myself in is the simple value of being a good person. Not just making oneself look good so people think I’m good, but actually living a good life, thinking about what I value and living those values, not compromising on the values I hold dearest, seeking justice in the world, standing up for what’s right.

I have some deep convictions about what constitutes a good life, and yet also remain fairly open-minded about other people’s paths toward a good life, and about how my own path might be improved. I like to think (or at least hope) that this sort of transparency, openness, vulnerability, and authenticity can be detected by others subconsciously at least. I don’t know how much it will affect my future employability, and honestly I don’t care too much… I am simply hoping that it matters, because it’s not something I’m planning on throwing away anytime soon.

The word “networking” always brings to mind a certain sliminess that I really want no part in. “Making friends” is better, but can also easily be turned into something a little bit wicked; “friends” becomes shorthand for “people that can move me up the industry’s social hierarchy.” It’s easy to get cynical about so many aspects of any industry where “who you know” is of such intrinsic value.

Making genuine connections with other people is what’s ultimately most important to me. It’s what I hope to do with my music; to foster those moments where one mind (or a group of minds) puts something out there into the world, and another mind picks it up and sees it exactly for what it is, with all the feelings and emotions and messiness that comes with it. Some sort of empathetical resonance. I’m hoping that by trying to be a good, authentic person, by being honest in what I put out there, maybe my music, words, and character will resonate with other good and authentic people, and maybe those connections will happen. Of course there’s more to it than that; I need to be a skilled musician, I need to know how to effectively communicate, I need to know the technical aspects of digital audio. But I think authenticity will be of equal importance moving forward. This seems to be confirmed by the fact that I’ve met more kind, talented, intelligent, and, yes, authentic people in game audio and game development than I have in any other group of people.

Still, I say all this partially as wishful thinking; I’m sure there’s an opportunist side of my subconscious mind that wants to connect to people to climb that social/industry/financial/whatever ladder. But if that’s a side effect of trying to be a good person and have any kind of lasting positive impact, I think I’m okay with that. I’ll need to continuously keep that part of me in check and acknowledge the possibility that that selfish side of me is there, waiting to take control of the ship. But as long as I’m mindfully trying to do well, to do better, to be better, I think it will all work out in one way or another.

After all, ”good person” is not an end-state; “better person” is a continuously cultivated path.

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