Monday, June 18, 2007

Knowing When To Say When

How to Fail Successfully: When to Give Up on Our Ambitions? in the Chronicle describes Glenn Kurtz's painful (and, I would add, worthwhile) struggle with giving up his dream of life as a concert (classical) guitarist:

Kurtz's is a story many of us know at some neurotic level, whether we're musicians, ball players, painters, writers or tightrope walkers. Owing to a confluence of doting parents, late capitalism and a vague cloud of nurturing in the air, we're told to pursue our ambitious passions, or maybe our passionate ambitions. Follow our hearts and we'll eventually prevail, we're told from an early age; over and over the movie music swells and the plucky hero beats the odds, and we drive home and think, "What does Ralph Macchio have that I don't?"*

Oh my how that rings true, not only as a musician, but as a writer, both of which I've given up almost innumerable times. The only reason I write is that it brings me joy. But if the joy leaves, I probably won't write because I can't think of any other reason that makes it worthwhile. What Kurtz describes is the same struggle with identifying that you truly will not "make it" in the sense that you were hoping for, and that you are still okay.

*Text in italics is quoted material. Usually I indent quoted material, but blogger insists on single spacing everything after it indents.