When you look at what captures your interest enough in life to turn a casual encounter into a full fledged hobby or career, chances are strong ambition played a part in the final decision. Whether you thought something was cool because of the social implications or you naturally gravitated towards things because they were easy for you to do, as adults we lock on to passions and hold them close to heart for a lifetime. I’ve interviewed a lot of bands through the years for the magazines I write for, and it’s interesting to hear the stories of at what age a certain musician decided to move from being a music lover to gathering the courage to play an instrument, start a band and then try to knock on the doorstep of one of their heroes in terms of sold out shows, record deals and fan adulation.
At age 6 one of my strongest ambitions related to bowling. I wanted to be a professional bowler. My mother and father bowled 5 nights a week- so spending time soaking in the environment, learning to keep score for adults at that age and gaining tips wherever I could to improve my game fueled my interest more. Surprisingly I gained the opportunity at 13 to bowl with one of the biggest PBA stars of the day- Marshall Holman- in my own local center! My mother had a bowling friend in the area who was Marshall’s girlfriend, so he would often visit New England. His encouragement helped me in my decision to bowl for UMass Lowell for 4 years. I realized in 1992 when bowling a national tournament against future PBA star Chris Barnes what set the cream of the crop apart from the good to great crowd- his abilities put mine to shame in terms of physical and mental sharpness.
Even now I still have ambitious bowling goals that keep me fired up with every frame that I throw. They may not be professional bowling caliber, but even as an amateur I know that I can compete on a high level, develop strong tournament experience and also win a little money based on my skill set.
Music has been another strong ambition of mine to be involved in since my early teens. I voraciously read every music magazine I could get my hands on, I’d dream up band lineups I was going to be involved with- down to writing lyrics, designing album to album cycles for my bands and also knowing who I would be touring with. I didn’t know that by college I would become more of a writer on the critic side, getting to know my favorite musicians through reviewing their albums, taking in their shows and interviewing them. I’m never at a loss for words when I hear songs that touch me, provoke me, energize me or even cause differing emotions. I feel the need to explain to readers what bands are like, what they can expect for a sound, looking at aspects such as songwriting, lyrical content, musicianship, arrangement skills and overall presentation. I may be in my late 30’s yet I feel that keeping up with all types of music (including the hip hop- rap- r & b- regatton my oldest daughter subjects me to through Youtube, Myspace, commerical radio and her IPod selections) influences me to stay young with an open mind.
My ambitions as a writer are multi-fold. I do want to write books. When I was younger, I thought it would be in the mystery genre. I read hundreds of books from John Creasey and Nero Wolfe to Hugh Pentecost, Ed McBain, Lawrence Block, John Lutz, Robert Parker, Julie Smith, Nancy Pickard, William Tapply and so on. These days I think I’d like to write about non-fiction topics- psychology, self-help or improvement, personal development, adoption, and so on. I enjoy the blog medium and love the feedback I’m receiving for this.
Ambition can get you through difficult times in your life. I know people that are struggling with finding a job, making ends meet in today’s economy- and they find a way to smile through it all and stride forward to greet the next day as sunny and cheery as the previous one. It can start with arising a half hour earlier to read inspirational, uplifting material. Maybe you need a walk around your neighborhood to get the blood circulating and the heart pumping. Wherever you can, look at some area that you’ve neglected that you enjoy- and make the time to pursue that interest, even if it’s only for that day.
It’s ok to be selfish sometimes and take care of your inner drive. Your beaming personality and outward glow will illuminate everyone in your circle, and there’s nothing wrong with that.