I was recently asked if I’d always had faith in my path as a musician.

It’s a good question, and one that provoked some decidedly non-soapbox/swashbuckling answers. Folks come here for a dose of upstream boldness. And I suppose in this post I still deliver, but Emily Dickinson might call it delivering slant.

What does having faith feel like? Is it the absence of questioning and doubt? Or is it marked by the outcomes of those questions and doubts? I find that most of my crises of faith have been instigated by other people. It’s easy to have lots of opinions about things you have no control over, isn’t it? Still, I am not so impermeable that I don’t worry when people ask me what I want to do “when I grow up” or “for a real job.”

My concern isn’t whether I’m doing the right thing or if I have the skills. I’m doing what I am compelled by nature to do- I have tried, halfheartedly, other things. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. As for having the skills, I probably have about half the skills I need to be as good as I’d like to be, but the learning process is as satisfying as the teaching and performing part.

When my students call me crying or the lead singer wants to bail on the gig, I have the pep talk ready. Tribulations and moments of despair forge a deeper bond with our craft. When I’m asked about my faith in myself, I can respond candidly:

I may not always be comfortable or assured that I’ll succeed, but I am positive- I have complete faith- that this is what I’m meant to be doing. It kind of goes back to one of my favorite sports analogies: even if you’re striking out, it means you’re swinging for the fences. It means you’re in the game. Asking tough questions gives swashbucklers like us the opportunity to answer, after some rumination, with a steady voice.