As The Hard Times Hit, Some All-Too-Personal Thoughts

2:31 pm Music

It is during times like this, when the talk all around is about the hard times to come or that are already here, that many of us question the intelligence of the decision to be a musician. One cannot help but wonder whether it is not smarter to have a “real” job, with a regular paycheck and a sense that what you’re doing is important on a tangible level.

The task of keeping the motivation up in demoralizing times is a priority for any freelancer. Let’s talk about it.

Is the question of selling out an unhealthy one to have? The only unhealthy thing about it is to think of changing the courses of our lives as “selling out.” In fact, it is the duty of the thinking person to question their decisions. So, go ahead, be my guest, wonder whether you should take that job as a book-keeper, or go back to school and become a doctor.. In fact, if we liken pursuing a career in music to making an investment, it is only slightly more sure an investment than building an ice factory in Antarctica. In fact, it would be silly not think of selling out.

Is it demoralizing to think of selling out? Common wisdom has it that this is negative thinking and is demoralizing and dangerous. That’s ridiculous (in my humble view). For one thing, if your conviction in what you do is so shaky that questioning it bears the risk of losing the motivation to do it, then, perhaps, you don’t have the conviction necessary and you belong in another job.

Should we all think about it because it is healthy to do so, and then all shrug our shoulders and go back to practicing? No!

Just as it is immoral and a waste of a life to be “stuck” doing an office job just because you have it and it is “all you know”, it is also wrong in the absolute to be a musician just because that’s what you do. It may be that for some of us music is a transitory thing. We do it to figure something out about our lives and then move on to the thing for which we are meant. And yes, I will say it, a musical training is very valuable in any profession. Think of discipline to practice for hours on end, the ability to perform under pressure, the attention to detail, the phenomenal memory, the ability to learn things quickly, and the ability to combine mathematical and artistic thinking modes.

My point is that the question of “what job do I do?” or “should I compromise for the sake of feeling more secure” are not the real questions. The real questions to which we all owe ourselves an answer are “what is it I want out of my time here?” and “what is my place in the world?”

We live and we die as did billions of people over many thousands of years. Each of them had a story. What do I want my story to be? That is the question.

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