I am sitting here in the recording studio of my California home watching my childhood dreams unfold, as if those origami fortunetellers were all true. Two and a half years after dropping out of college, moving to Los Angeles and working really fucking hard, my music career is taking off. I probably deserve a trophy for never giving up, but I can’t take credit for much more; life has humbled me with so much serendipity.
Cared for by the most loving and passionate parents, I was free to explore life – to discover the world and myself. They enabled me to follow my heart. After expressing my interest for piano at a very early age, they paid for lessons. When I wanted to play the drums, they bought me a drum set. Once my dad saw how serious I was – or maybe it was because my band was so damn loud – he turned our unfinished basement into a soundproof studio and filled it with recording gear and instruments. He later paid for me to go to the Frost school of music at the University of Miami and then allowed me to drop out and move to LA after one of my songs began generating some passive income. Long story short, I chose to make the most out of countless opportunities that presented me – a choice a lot of people don’t get to make.
Despite all of my good fortune, a feeling of discomfort overwhelms me. In recognizing my luck, I have become deeply aware of others’ misfortune. How can I enjoy my life when I know others can’t? This question crippled me for years, but today it is the fuel that drives me to be great. I have an opportunity – a responsibility – to live a life bigger than myself and to act on more than just my own well-being.
Almost half of the world’s population – 3 billion people – lives on less than $2.50 a day. Step outside our comfortable homes and college educations and you’ll find slums, ghettos and refugee camps crowded with disease and violence – children without proper shelter, nutrition and education. We are witnessing a mass genocide in the Middle East, the persecution of free speech in Saudi Arabia, a North-Korean government that tortures innocent civilians and countless mass shootings across the world. Maybe your life hasn’t been as fortunate as mine, but count your blessings and you’ll see that you are pretty damn lucky. Realize that even our most mundane routines would be paradise for billions of people.
Yet we’re still scared to live. We’re scared of failing because we’re scared of the shame and the loss of control, so we stop taking chances. We chose safe lives over passionate ones; we chose the comfort of knowing exactly what’s going to happen next over the thrill of following our hearts. I’d rather be a fervent vagabond than be led through a maze with some money in my pocket and the false promise of happiness at the end. The only thing we’re promised in life is that it is temporary, so I’m not going to waste this precious time and this wildly unique and fortunate circumstance hindering to fear.
I feel an obligation to help those that can’t help themselves; I feel a responsibility to make the conditions of life a little bit better while I’m here. I certainly can’t do it alone, but through my music I’m building a platform that will hopefully inspire impassioned and intelligent individuals to put there efforts towards making the world a better place.
You should be grateful for all that you have, but that doesn’t mean you should be complacent – you have been given an opportunity to make a difference too. I’m not telling you to change the world, I’m challenging you to take a chance on yourself and create a life worth living. Give yourself the freedom to find what you love so you can spend your life following your heart.
—July 20, 2016