I am unexpectedly free this evening and am sitting down to wrestle out some thoughts.
Now, nobody worry or panic. I am going to ask the question that niggles, though it is a pretty angsty kind of question. I mean to approach it with my usual ladylike war cry and gutsy giggles, but first it has to be asked.
What is success? Furthermore, what constitutes success for me?
As always, in settings of intense interaction with other musicians, I am brought face to face with wonderful people, many of whom awe me. I am not easily awed, but when I hear a 21 year old cellist play with more grace and confidence than professors I have worked with, I wonder. When I sit in classes with middle aged women who have truly shaped their world, I wonder. When I listen to the dedicated, steadfast work of a colleague, I wonder.
I wonder if I am a failure. But that, I have learned, is not the right question. That is the question that assumes that what is good for their lives would be good for mine. That presupposes that their experiences are better than mine. That negates everything I have done.
So while I am in the midst of learning a million things, I am also looking for a better, more profitable question. One that may perhaps lead me to an answer worth working with.
How did they achieve success? Too easily answered. Hard work and dedication.
Do they feel good about their lives? Not my business. Move on.
Is it worth all the striving and trouble? Stupid question. Yes.
I think for the moment, the question I must ask and answer quickly is:
What constitutes Success for me?
That is a question whose answer may actually be useful to me. Clearly you can’t quantify failure unless you know what you were attempting. That’s silly! That’s like saying “I failed at spelunking!” as you scuba dive in Hawaii.
I think when I answer that, I’ll have a clear goal. With a clear goal, I would know what work to do and what to lay aside as superficial. I would look these people in the face without harmful comparisons that only lead to useless, non-penitential, psychological self-flagellation.
And with that bizarre image….I’ll put my angst to bed. It’s at the whiny stage of exhausted.