We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity.
Concert pianist James Rhodes makes many a fine point in this rather good article (I implore you to read it in full if you want the below to make any semblence of sense).
Now I’m going to commit the cardinal sin of imagining I know something about someone when I really don’t know sh*t, but that seems to be de riguer pon de internet, and frankly it’s never stopped me before, so let’s go with it. See you all in hell, meta-sinners.
Personally, I don’t know many people who could follow one dream at the cost of a marriage and nine months in a mental hospital.
Actually, I don’t really want to know many people who could do that.
Find what you love and let it kill you?
On the surface James and I seem to have a reasonable amount in common – I have one of those dream creative jobs that other people covet too, and people are always expressing to me that they wish they had kept playing music too.
However, I’m pretty sure I would feel uncomfortable and inadequate talking to James about music – I haven’t gone to the same extremes for my art.
And I never will, because it’s simply not in me to do so… I really like doing the things he regards as a waste of precious time.
I enjoy going to the pub, and I revel in watching crap movies with friends and I gossip about celebrities. I’d hazard a guess that James and I would probably struggle to connect over the latest sports results, (although I’m struggling to talk about that at the moment – goddammit Brentford!).
Yes, I admit it, sometimes I actively enjoy wasting time.
I admire people like James. I certainly envy their single-mindness and occasionally wish I had one dream to rule them all in the same way they do. But it’s not a real wish.
The thing is when most people say something like “I wish I hadn’t given up playing the piano”, what they actually mean is “I wish life had panned out differently”, or even “I wish I was taller/thinner/more handsome”.
It’s not a real wish.
It’s Marlon Brando in full “I coulda been a contender” mode, or the brilliant Pogues/Kirsty Mac-call and response of “I coulda been someone – well so could anyone”.
Every human being is comprised of more missed opportunities than achieved actualities, the real trick is to treat the achievements, whatever they are, with more weight and value than the regrets.
I guarantee* that there are successful concert pianists out there right now saying “I wish I’d spent more time with my family and friends”.
I’m never going to be the perfect composer-songwriter Matt – I spend far too much time playing stupid computer games for that. And yes, sometimes after a frustrating session of Football Manager I feel hollow and regretful. But it was my decision to do it, and given that someone else will always be able to play it and say it better than I can myself it is bloody tempting to go back to just consuming rather than creating.
So yes, find what you love, but for goodness sake don’t let it kill you!
I really love the article because it makes me think and sets down a challenge. I think the intended message is spot on, but I also think it tacitly glorifies a certain type of artist ideal that simply isn’t something that most people should aspire to, and in so doing belittles the very act of routine creativity that he’s trying to encourage.
So my advice? Take the ‘damn’ out of his comment below, and take it the way it was probably intended rather than how I seem to have ended up putting it across. Do whatever it is that you do, and do it with passion.
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, the fame and Heat photo-shoots that all our children now think they’re now entitled to because Harry Styles has done it.
*and that’s a Mighty Handful promise, which is worth the paper it isn’t written on.