I've always tried to be careful in terms of my priorities. So far I've been very lucky. I have a great family, a good job, and a moderately successful music career which includes performing and recording at my own studio. In my mind, my music career is very successful but I measure it in relation to my other commitments and playing a careful balancing act. I have to know when to say know to a gig or project and have to know how to keep my mind wrapped around the various gigs and ensembles I play with while still doing my job and being there for my wife and kids.
Well, finally things "broke": I got asked to step aside fom a project I was really excited about. Due to work, I would be missing a bunch of rehearsals for an upcoming musical that I've been heavily involved with (recording and accompanying record, composing music, playing gigs to raise money for the production). Since I was missing these rehearsals, the writer (under stong suggestions by the director) asked for musicians who could be there the whole time. As a result, I was forced to step aside.
I'm pretty upset about it as this was something I was really looking forward to. There are upsides: I have a lot more time now during a period which is already busy with gigs and family stuff, I don't have to sub out any of the gigs I was planning on subbing out, I can go see Jonathan Richman.... I'm sure there are others. That said, I feel a bit like this is a watershed moment. In some sense, I just had too much going on at once and things had to be let go.
This kind of makes me play a bit of a "shoulda, woulda, coulda" game with myself. Had I been more serious aobut my music at a time when I was focused on my education/career, would I have been a more successful performer/composer? Could I have been able to support my family as a musician? I know that this is a futile exercise , which makes it all the worse.
Oh well, onward and upward.