The Grind

There were plenty of hard conversations. Over the last two years I can remember a couple times looking into my fiancé’s deep blue eyes, searching for answers.

“Should I be here?” “Am I doing the right thing?”

               “I can’t answer that for you baby,” was always her response.

You see the problem was it had gotten hard. It had begun to add up. The sacrifices I was making felt like they were starting to cut too deep. It’s all fun and games when you start a passion project with your friends. Sure, you think. It will be fun. That’s the key word, fun.

When I was a younger man I truly believed that if I could find a way to do what I loved for a living then I would be happy because it would always be fun. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve walked away from growing up, some that truly had a sort of magic brewing, because I felt the moment I stopped having fun it must be a sign from God that this wasn’t the direction that I needed to go.

But here’s something I’ve learned as I continue to move through this journey. No matter what you’re doing, it’s never always going to be fun. If you do anything enough, I don’t care how much you love to do it, it will eventually turn into a grind. No one ever coasted to achieve greatness. There will always be a hill that must be climbed.

That’s how we got as far as we did here with OZ. Because even when things got hard, and I wanted to quit, I always reminded myself that everything, no matter what I did, would eventually be a grind. Chasing a passion isn’t always going to be running through a blissful spring rain shower.

But you can either work hard for someone else or work hard for yourself.

Having said all that, the beauty of grinding on something you love, with people you respect and admire is that you’re often reminded why you’re in this game in the first place.

Last month, June 2019, Hop Heroes had our very first live show in Federal Way Washington. This is a show that we’ve been working hard on for almost two years now and it’s steadily grown since the start. This live show was a new level for us, an accumulation of all the work we’ve put in. We were all incredibly excited to be able to go in front of our fans and “perform.” But that day, leading up to the show, was what I believe to be a solid metaphor for what it’s like to be a dream chaser.

We met early that day, after two long nights of rehearsal. We drove out of town to a brewery (shout out Silver City Brewery) who have been incredibly supportive of the show from the very beginning. We drove back, had lunch, made some more preparations and just ran around running errands all day. By the time it was time for the show to start we were all beat. I remember us setting up the shop for the show and going outside for a moment to gather ourselves, and I remember looking at everyone in their eyes and all the sudden, as we were being introduced to the audience no one was tired anymore. That fire that had gone out in our eyes had reignited and without saying much I knew we were all ready to go. Showtime.

When we got on we kind of stumbled over our first couple jokes and then we hit our rhythm. Once we did, it was like flowing with a river. I felt this push and pull from the audience and my cohosts that I could play with ever so slightly to increase or decrease the tension. There where hecklers and lots of laughs and we even finished with a musical number. The first time we every played it all the way through. Afterwards we invited the entire audience to a local bar and danced and sang karaoke and just honestly lived. That night, we were all full of life, bursting at the seams, each and every one of us.

And I think that’s the truth. That’s what its about. If I could deliver a message to my younger self, or maybe this will be for my son one day I’ll tell him that no matter what you do, you can’t run away from the grind. Either you find it, or it will find you. Instead of running, you have the power to decide what you spend your grind on, and in that decision, you have the ability to build moments in which you and everyone you love bursts with life, and really there’s nothing better than that. Be a light in order to bring the light out in others.

 Life’s sweetest nectar.  


- Z

Zach Barlow