I think that sometimes we are ruled by fear. We are afraid of not succeeding, afraid of being unhappy, afraid that to change one’s mind is tantamount to failure.
I was young once, and remember wanting desperately to pursue my passion. Fortunately for me, I was allowed to by circumstance, and driven enough to succeed. In doing so, I both fulfilled my dream and killed it, for I found that I was deeply unsuited to the environment that my craft exists within. Although I was (and remain) highly skilled and an excellent craftsman, the long hours, poor working conditions, and emotional roller coaster that is inherent in the field eventually drove me out of it. Sadly, the experience tainted the joy I once held in my craft. While I still perform it on an extremely limited basis, the associated feelings from that abandoned first career prevent me from finding the enjoyment in it that I once did.
For that reason, I have been very careful to limit my relatively newfound violin experience to only those things which promote my own happiness. It’s not as if I could make a living from it at this juncture, nor do I feel as if it is my path. It is better for me to separate my career (that which funds my life) from my pastimes (that which feeds my soul) in order to protect and secure my happiness. I envy those who can find both security and fulfillment from pursuing what gives them joy.
People can get too wrapped up in thinking that they must make a career out of the thing they love. They fail to see that sometimes it is better to secure their futures with a humdrum “normal” career path so that they can enjoy their driving passion without the stress of attempting to make a living from it. I once felt that if I didn’t work at a job that I loved, that I couldn’t be fulfilled, when exactly the opposite turned out to be true. In truth, my lack of attachment to what I do now is what allows me to go home at night and throw myself into practicing the violin. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
It has been twenty years since I changed careers. Often now, it feels as if that past life happened to someone else entirely. However, without that experience, my path would have been very different, so I embrace every moment of both the good and the bad parts associated with it.
I do not write this to discourage anyone from pursuing a career in performance. If you truly want to, than by all means, go for it! However, I would gently remind you that it is possible for one to find joy in pursuing excellence for its own sake. It’s not an all or nothing proposition. You never know where life will lead you if you are open to the possibilities.
More entries: August 2013
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