Today I am excited to share a guest post from Cameron Eby, a man who exemplifies the use of music for self-care. I think his story goes to show that you don’t need to be a full-time professional musician to benefit from making music. Read his story here, then check out his blog for more about his musical journey and his YouTube channel for some of the music he has put out there into the world. After you finish reading his story, please share your own – how has making music made a difference in your life? I can’t wait to read what you have to say!
by Cameron Eby
I am a happily married 38 year old man, married to the most amazing, the greatest, and the most beautiful woman on the planet and father of two of the greatest sons on earth. I am in the best health of my life. If you would have told me seventeen years ago that this would be my life today, I would have never believed you, but through music, specifically guitar, singing and songwriting, I was able to turn it all around. I can say with confident honesty that I am where I am today because of music. It led me to discover God, meet my wife, and sing the song that caused her to fall in love with me. Music helped me to go from High School Dropout to the University Honor Roll.
To look at me now, you would never guess that during my teens and early twenties I made decisions that nearly led to an early death. After an unintentional drug overdose and near death experience, I awoke to a new perspective. Life wasn’t over and I didn’t want to waste the time that I had left. This forced me to reflect and assess my life. Career-wise, I had lost my job as a fast food restaurant manager, a career that I had planned on retiring from. I didn’t have any friends left, and my immediate and extended family had disowned me, dismissing me as a burnout. Spiritually, I had no religion, and physically I was in poor shape. I really felt I had nothing going for me. I was depressed, anxious, regretting the path I had taken, and feeling that my life was over. I realized I was a wreck and resolved to do something about it.
During my near death experience I had a dream, a vision. Perhaps it was divine intervention. While I was passed out, I remember total darkness and a voice asking me if I was ready to move on. I replied that I wasn’t and that if I died at that moment then my life would have been a meaningless waste, and no one would miss me. The voice said that I needed to wake up and fix things. I asked what am I to do? I have nothing. I know nothing. I’m an unemployed high school dropout. The voice said to follow love, to determine what it was that I love and had always loved.
Over the next several weeks of searching for that love, I came face to face with music. Music was something that was always there, through good times and bad. I had always loved to sing and play guitar. I got my first guitar for Christmas at the age of 5 and played until I broke all the strings and it was thrown away three Christmases later. At the age of 15, I picked it up again, because guitar was offered as an elective class at my junior high school, but I quit when my strings broke and didn’t have the money or motivation to replace them. When I turned 17, I tried again, this time for an 11th grade guitar class, but my own opinion of my playing and my ability was very poor. I could play the intro to a bunch of songs and I knew all the open chords and a couple of scales in the first position, but as the material became more challenging I would give up with frustration for any piece that I couldn’t play the first time through.
Finally, at the age of 22, after the reassessment of my life, I found the courage to try, the patience to endure, and the strength to practice. I decided that I would be a country singer. One way or another I was going to pursue something. With my newly found determination to succeed, I was determined to take guitar playing one day at a time. As I played note by note and strum by strum, I became more and more aware that I could accomplish something and that I wasn’t worthless. I used this newfound confidence and applied it to all areas of my life, taking life one day at a time and every day trying to be just a little bit better than I was the day before.
I think the reason I didn’t stick with music earlier in life is due to the fact that I have always been my own worst critic and, at times, my own worst enemy. It’s especially bad to judge something as personal as your own art and music when the world is quick to agree with you – without a tangible benefit such as fame or fortune, most folks will erroneously judge music and art as a waste of time. It then becomes very easy not to try, because it is hard to see the benefit right off the bat. Add to that the fact that music – specifically guitar and voice – takes practice, and as humans we tend to compare ourselves to other people in anything that we do and if we feel like we don’t measure up than we give up. Through my guitar playing and singing, I have found that the key to success in anything is that you should only compete with yourself. Find something that is rewarding to you and practice. Tons.
Today, as I take out my guitar and strum a couple of comforting chords I think back to where I’ve been and where I am and how music has gotten me there. I may not be a country music star or have tons of fans across the world, but I am happy. Music has helped me get there. It has strengthened me in so many ways and led to so much positive change in my life that I thank God for the love I have for it and the joy it brings me. I have written several songs and I have some posted on YouTube. If anyone takes the time to watch and listen, I hope that they will note the progression of improvement from my first post to my latest posted video and see that as an inspiration to dream their own dream. I will be posting more about my story and posting videos and audio recordings on my blog at http://guitartreatment.blogspot.com/