Happiness Comes to Those Who Live Their Calling

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.” ~Rumi

I was on tour with a famous rock legend, Joe Walsh from the mega-successful seventies band, The Eagles.

We were riding around in one of those air brushed tour busses, living the party life and flying to exotic places. Staying in the finest hotels. Beautiful women hanging around the backstage door trying to get my attention.

You would think this would be a dream come true, right?

Here I was rubbing shoulders with people like Stevie Nicks, Willie Nelson, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and yet, I wasn’t happy. Not really.

And you know what really sucks?

When you’re so close to your dream you can almost reach out and touch it, but for some reason you can’t. Something is holding you back.

You spend years working hard just to get next to it. You’re working right there in the area of your passion. But you aren’t actually living it.

You’re helping someone else to live theirs.

It feels like your face is pressed up against a glass wall. And there, just on the other side is the thing you’re really supposed to be doing.

I was his sound engineer. But the dream was to be playing guitar up onstage with him.

The band and crew were like family because we had done several tours together. Joe knew I rehearsed regularly with the band when he didn’t show up and that I knew the music cold.

Even the guys in the band agreed it would sound better if I was playing the other guitar parts but it wasn’t their place to say.

All I had to do was ask. But I couldn’t seem to get up the nerve. I just couldn’t get past the uncertainty of what might happen if I took the leap and got shot down.

I was poised to jump but paralyzed by fear.

I guess I was just hoping the other band members would put in the good word and do my bidding for me by asking to have a second guitar player.

I was wrong.

Nothing happened. The train kept a rolling with me still behind the soundboard. Still unhappy.

I figured out in the silent weeks that followed that no one just hands you the keys to the highway. You have to ask for them.

Finally, I arrived at the place where I could no longer stand by and accept my “close but no cigar” status. The idea that I would have to live with the consequences of not trying was simply too much to bear.

So I decided to cast my fears and uncertainty to the wind and just ask Joe if I could play the gig.

And then something very strange happened.

I never got the chance.

It was as though the universe finally heard from my heart. It recognized that my commitment was real and decided it was time for a change.

That night in beautiful Santa Cruz, CA we were out at a birthday party for one of the band members at this amazing restaurant. The food was incredible, the wine was flowing, and everyone was feeling fine. I was sitting next to Joe when he turned to me and dropped the bomb.

“What songs would you want to play on if you were to join me up onstage, man?” he said.

At first, I wasn’t sure I had heard correctly. But the smile on my face told me I had.

Suddenly, it felt like a great weight had lifted from my soul. This was affirmation. I was worthy of the dream after all.

When we arrived back at the hotel, Joe said he wanted to talk to me alone. He wanted to know how I was going to handle my new responsibilities.

We walked out onto the balcony outside his room, where I was immediately struck by the awe-inspiring beauty before me. A full moon was shimmering over the Pacific Ocean as the waves crashed on the beach.

We stood there in silence for some time, just listening to the ocean when Joe finally broke the silence.

“Go on, man. Ask your Uncle Joe anything.”

“Anything at all?” I replied.

“Whatever you like, man.”

I thought about that for a moment and decided to go for the one question every human being really wants to know.

“What’s the meaning of life, Joe?”

He smiled and then looked down his nose at me, studying my expression, as if to see if I was really ready to hear the answer.

Here was a rock star worth millions but who also suffered from addictions at the time and personal losses that could never be healed by fame or money.

“That’s a good question, man. Are you ready for the answer?”

I nodded.

“Two words,” he said, pausing for dramatic effect. “Be…happy.”

He gave a whimsical smile.

“That’s it?! That’s what this whole crazy game boils down to?!” I said incredulously, expecting something much more…grandiose?

“Are you happy, man?”

I thought about this.

Here I was in my late twenties, a young man roaming the world with one of my all time favorite musical heroes. We made people happy wherever we showed up. I had to admit, life was indeed pretty great at this moment.

And that’s when I got it. This moment is all you ever really have.

“Yeah, Joe. I guess I am happy.”

“What more do you need, man?”

“I can’t think of anything right now,” I said.

“Exactly! Now you get it, man. Don’t ever forget it.”

“I won’t,” I said smiling. Then he gave me a big hug and walked back inside.

For the rest of the tour I played guitar on stage for three or four songs every night. Right there next to Joe. My hero. In music and beyond.

I never forgot that night on the balcony.

By asking for what I wanted, a door opened up that set me down a path to an even greater destination than I ever could have imagined in that moment.

I have since moved back to New York to start a family and become the artist I was always supposed to be.

It hasn’t always been easy. I have a lot more responsibilities now, but I’m also surrounded by a family who loves and supports me.

I know of no greater happiness.

A few years back, my group won a battle of the bands and the opportunity to play the halftime show at a Nets basketball game. There were 16,000 people attending that night.

At halftime, the sound crew wheeled out our gear and ushered us out to the middle of the arena as the lights went down. A roadie crouched down and turned on my amplifier. I looked down and gave him the thumbs up.

Then I stared out at the crowd. I’m sure I was smiling. For a very brief moment, I was back on that balcony.

This time I wasn’t there to support someone else’s dream. I wasn’t working the show. I was the talent performing my own music.

This was my dream. The happiness of realizing your true calling.

You’re often so afraid to ask for what you want because you don’t believe you’re worthy of your dreams. (You are.)

Or you fear people will think you’re being pushy or arrogant. (You’re not. You’re being assertive).

Or if you ask for help people will think you’re weak. (You’re not. You’re human)

To ask from the heart is to touch the divine. By simply taking that action, you immediately free yourself from your fears. By letting go of the outcome and embracing the uncertainty, you enter the realm of infinite possibility.

Like your dreams, happiness is never given. You have to create it.

To your happiness!

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About Mark Hermann

Mark Hermann is a music producer, songwriter, and blogger with the occasional whimsy to create mosaic art. He teaches musicians & other creators how to unearth their inner rock star and deliver the soundtrack to their story. Read more of his stories about how to discover your own personal legend at Rock andRoll Zen. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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  • Wow! Be…happy! So very cool! He could have put the emphasis on either “be” or “happy” and the simplicity of either would still blow the mind! This story is an amazing reminder of our truth. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Mark Hermann

    You’re welcome, Dina. And yes, we could find happiness simply in being, if we could see that just being (as in here) is the ultimate gift. Life! And if we can remember just that we could be happy with whatever each day brings us. Thank you for that persepective.

  • Cool story Mark. I know what you mean about “not feeling it” when you should as with your story about being around so many famous musicians. Many would be ecstatic about such an experience. Sometimes we get in a funk and the only way out of that funk is to get back into your spiritual heart and be in the present moment.

  • What a refreshing and poignant view of your experience. I am currently at a crossroad in my life. Asking is the most difficult part & quitting is so much easier, but I couldn’t live with the woman I aspire to be if I didn’t attempt to shoot for my dreams. I have visualized it for years, and surrounded myself with the people who are fostering my development. Be happy, simple as that.

  • mojofist

    I’m glad I read this right now, since I’m standing at the crossroads now, so to speak. This also makes me glad that I’m a Joe Walsh fan.

  • Mark Hermann

    Glad the timing worked for you, Mojofist. And if you’re standing on that crossroads at least you know that change is upon you and that’s always a time of forward motion. I’m still a Walsh fan all these years later!

  • Mark Hermann

    Thanks Selena. Yes, be happy and know that the chasm we all face between asking for what we want and standing on the sidelines is only in our mind. It’s fear. That’s all it is. The best question to ask in that moment is ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ That you’re reading this article is another one of those for me: the decision to become a writer. Go for it and use that support network of yours!

  • Mark Hermann

    Right on, Justin! Yes, it’s really easy to look at the lifestyle from the outside and just see the fun and glamour in it all. But we all have that greater purpose we must serve and wherever you stand you have to try and fulfill that. Otherwise, you’re staring at the thing no one wants to reckon with. Regret.

  • It’s amazing what happens when you lean into your calling. I call it to the left of greatness…when you are so close to your dream but stuck just to the left of it and can’t seem to step into it yet. Thanks for sharing how your story evolved and for some great behind the scenes Joe Walsh insight.

  • Mark Hermann

    You’re welcome, Sheila. Yeah, that was a big one to lean into for me but they never really stop. I think we keep working through these roadblocks not just to reach the dream but to keep driving down the road to see where it all leads.

  • Ximena Gregoire

    You gave me back my inspiration wich is to write a book about uncertanty.Due to my separation I focused on helping my daughter to live life again.This morning I was tired and sad for not being able to work on my dream.I read what you wrote and it opened my eyes about my dream and I.I am not happy and who causes me to be down is my own fear.I want to put all my dedication into writing and one day say I did it,my book is on the shelves.I am scared but if i don’t ask the answer will always be no.Thank you.You are humbled and a gift to the world.Love and light!

  • Julia

    thank you so much for this inspirational post. it is exactly what I needed to read.

  • Mark Hermann

    You’re welcome, Julia.

  • Mark Hermann

    I’m glad to have inspired this in you, Ximena. That’s really my greatest goal. To inspire others to live the dream. In achieving that I would be achieving mine. But we’re all the same. We all have the same fears. The same self doubt. You just have to wake up, take another step and tomorrow do it again. The law says if you start walking in the direction of your destination, no matter how slow, one day if you don’t stop you will have to arrive.

  • CC

    Thank you! Like Julia, this is exactly what I needed to read today. Over the past few years, I have been searching for that “feeling”…I too feel paralyzed with fear of asking for help or seeking opportunities that will help me move forward. It is reassuring to hear that I am not alone and that other people experience this too. Thank you so much for sharing…

  • Mark Hermann

    You’re welcome, CC. Just the fact that you’re reading this article is another example of one of those imaginary lines we must all walk up to in life and decide to cross. For me, that was deciding to become a writer and then approaching Tiny Buddha with this guest post idea. All fears and doubts intact, I assure you. But here we are now and I am commenting back to you. Remember, those lines are just that, imaginary.

    All the best,


  • D_alex

    I needed this.

  • Beautiful Mark!!!! What a story! Reminds me of a quote I use often “Build your own dreams, or someone will hire you to build theirs” Cant remember who said it but totally applies. Keep living the dream man! I will be right behind ya =-)

  • Great read Mark, thanks for the inspiring post. I can kind of relate in that I moved to the big city to let out my “inner rock star” some 15 years ago. What I eventually learned was that music was the vehicle needed to get me to the city so that I could pursue come in contact with something that resonated more with me – spirituality and self-development. My music was all about wanting to help others, so the signs were there. I still make music on occasion and love listening to it, but was able to let it go for something that I felt even more drawn to.

  • Mark Hermann

    Jack, thanks for sharing. It really doesn’t matter what side of that fence you’re on. Whether you think it’s music and it’s really self development, so long as you get to the other side and find fulfillment. Truth be told, the fact that you’re reading this post from me is my own realization that writing and inspiring others to tell their own unique story has become a passion that I now combine with music. The journey is never ending.

  • Mark Hermann

    Thanks, CC. And yes, that quote is right on the money. And you keep living your dream! All the best.

  • mountainbeachgirl

    Better late than never I guess……… I’m sorry that I
    missed your initial posting Mark,……. but I really try and hold on to the belief
    that he universe will send the right person at the right time,. ….you just have
    to be open to them………and your post was that for me today………….. ,
    so thank you,……… I’ve been feeling a little low and
    lost,…………..working on a fearless living program and trying to figure
    out what my dream is anymore……… I have put my dreams aside for so long,………….There
    were 2 things in your posting that really struck a chord………. first,
    “To ask from your heart is to touch the divine”,. (that will be one
    to hang up on the wall to remind me every day)…………….the other was
    “You’re often so afraid to ask for what you want because you don’t believe
    you are worthy of your dreams”,……… that has been a real struggle for
    me,………… sometimes it feels like I have to apologize for my
    existence……………but I guess my comment or question is “How do you
    ask for what you really want when it feels like you don’t have a clue on what
    your dreams are anymore…………just trying to ask myself to answer that
    question brings me to tears and feelings of utter hopelessness and doubt that I
    will ever find it………. I’ve gone down a career path/passion before, only to
    have it fall apart, ……..I know that I don’t have a lot of confidence or trust
    in myself anymore to know what it is, even if it was put right in front of
    me. Sure I have things that I really enjoy doing, but I feel so lost on
    how to connect them all together and turn it into something that will become my
    life’s passion and happiness,………….and at the same time have it be supportive of
    my family………Sorry if my post is jibberish in nature,………. just
    trying to make sense of it all,…………… thanks again though for your
    post………it really meant a lot……….