The Guardian posted this article in their Music Blog back in April of 2013. James Rhodes, a concert pianist, talks about the struggle involved with living his passion. As any artist in any phase of their commitment can attest, it’s not exactly a walk in the park (nor is it a piece of cake, a no-brainer, or a cinch). Simply having a passion can be a source of conflict, something that tears us away from societal expectations, familial obligations, or even just the path of least resistance.
So it’s no wonder a lot of us opt for the road most traveled: that of turning away from the passion.
“We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity. A world where people have simply surrendered to (or been beaten into submission by) the sleepwalk of work, domesticity, mortgage repayments, junk food, junk TV, junk everything, angry ex-wives, ADHD kids and the lure of eating chicken from a bucket while emailing clients at 8pm on a weekend.”
Life itself tends to get in the way of constructive passion-pursuing. The basic needs of feeding ourselves, clothing ourselves, raising families and finding an income source to support it all — those can be major passion killers. But for many of us, these external obligations and internal desires (obligation being working for someone else; desire being raising a family or certain material things, for instance) aren’t strong enough to totally snuff the flame of passion.
Sometimes it never goes away, no matter how many years you spend ignoring it and counseling yourself that it’s not that big of a deal.
“And only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted…”
Of course, once we begin to go after That Which We Were Perhaps Designed To Do does the second phase of the struggle begin. That of betterment, self-criticism, external criticism, wild-eyed wonder of others and then even more criticism.There is no greater critic than oneself in matters of personal production, art, writing, music, etc.
Yet we must learn to find that balance of doing, improving, and enjoying. Do the work — improve consciously (without caustic self-criticism of the unhelpful kind) — and enjoy the process itself.
“It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be “good enough”.”
And in doing it, the constant unfurling and evolving process of following a passion, there are plenty of times that we ask ourselves or get asked, “Why?”. Why do it if there is a struggle, why do it if it’s easier not to, why do it if there are so many other people better than you and you’re only ‘good enough’, why do it if you can’t make money off it, why do it if you will only ever be one unknown name in a sea of unknown names in all of human history?
There’s no good answer to this question other than it’s a goddamn, inexplicable, life-altering, refusing-to-disappear passion. It might not matter to many; but maybe if it matters to you, that IS the only thing that matters.
“So write your damn book. Learn a Chopin prelude, get all Jackson Pollock with the kids, spend a few hours writing a Haiku. Do it because it counts even without the fanfare, the money, [and] the fame…”
Read the full article at The Guardian.
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