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Thankful is an Underdog

~ Jonathan Fleig

On December 9th 1995 I was 14 years old and a freshman in High School. I was an aspiring bass player. I was growing my hair long and wearing combat boots with shorts. I stood in the wings of my high school auditorium preparing to take the stage to an audience of about 200 of my peers. We shut off all the lights to make the entire auditorium pitch black. We opened with an original song my brother wrote called, “Edge of the World.” The first four bars were a solo slap bass line. It was the kind of thing that emulated Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I started the song as the curtain opened. Four bars later the band hit the down beat and the lights came up.




The response from the audience was both positive and loud. From that moment I was hooked. This is what I have wanted to do ever since.


It’s been almost 19 years since that night. The high school garage band I played with that evening has long since broken up. I have moved countless times through multiple states. I have written hundreds of songs about my experiences.  I have recorded four full-length albums and one EP. I have toured 16 of these United States. I have traveled over 100,000 miles. I have played hundreds of live performances. I have played with countless talented musicians. I have seen bands come and go. I have met some incredible people and built some life-long friendships. I have given up and started over an infinite amount of times. I have been given the rare opportunity to document my story on film. There have been a lot of ups and downs and through it all, I keep coming back to the same thing: this is what I want to do.


Many times throughout my journey I have heard the common expression "if you want to make it, you have to pay your dues." I am "paying my dues" because I do want to "make it," but “making it,” is a relative term. I used to think it meant playing a certain venue to a certain number of people or selling a certain number of albums. If this could happen or if that could happen then I would feel successful. Once and for all I am letting go of that paradigm.


Laozi was a philosopher and poet of ancient China. He is best known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching. He is quoted as saying, “there is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” I truly believe that grateful and happy walk hand in hand and to always want is to always be in want. These are three definitions I have been pondering.


Want /wänt,wônt/ verb; to lack or be short of something desirable or essential.

Thankful /ˈTHaNGkfəl/ adjective; pleased and relieved.

Happy /ˈhapē/ adjective; feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.


I have spent a great deal of the past 19 years in want or thinking I lack something essential. I have made the mistake of not being thankful for all that I have been given and therefore I have not always been as happy as I could have been.


I am left recognizing that my mistakes are a form of currency that have allowed me to purchase so many lessons. I can admit that in my life thankful has always been an underdog to want. I miss out on what I have because I am focused on wanting more. I am tired of wanting more; instead, I am thankful for what I have and I am happy.




This sure didn’t turn out the way I saw it in my head

Not ready to throw in the towel or give up just yet

I never said I thought it would be easy I guess I don’t know what I thought

But I know I’ve paid with all these mistakes for the lessons that I bought


I sure need to learn how to live outside of my own head

I’ve had my fair share of being down and full of regret

I never said I thought it would be easy but I finally know what I want

To live in a place of genuine thanks for everything I’ve got 

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