What's So Great About Doing What You Love?

Really: What's all the excitement about? People often talk about it. Some actually strive for it. A few are even doing it. So, what's so great about doing what you love? I, for one, can attest to the serious amount of actual work involved, the sometimes frighteningly fluctuating income stream, the uncertainty of getting any work at all, the nagging question of whether anybody else loves what you do, and even the occasional feeling that it's an excuse for not being ridiculously wealthy from some other job choice you ignored because you knew you'd hate it. But, seriously... Setting out on a labor of love, a purpose-driven career probably includes several factors.

There's the self employment thing. That's likely your route into loving your work if you're an artsy type. I'm self-employed and have been for decades. You'd think I would have settled into it by now, but I have a few issues with my boss. He's hard to work for. He's very demanding and nothing is ever enough. He's very disinclined towards time off or any semblance of a vacation unless there's some kind of work thrown into part of it. I sometimes question his leadership skills, creative ideas, and motivation. He's almost insane with visions of changing the future of this or that. And fair pay? Forget about it. If I made a million dollars tomorrow, he'd probably spend most of it on the next big idea and leave me continuing this middle class life style I've only just achieved after years of bordering on poverty. Strangely and possibly contradictory are that I also find him to be generally pretty scrupulous and he seems hell-bent on pleasing people. He appears to truly value every dollar that comes in, with a careful eye toward how it should be applied to creating more (dollars, as well as pieces of art and such). You get the idea, now back to first person.

It's hard to say whether I'm compensated for my face-to-face time on the service end of things, because I love what I do. Although, my fee schedule is within the market for comparable work, I'm often told I should charge more. As far as other income streams, there's still a lot of money going out to create and push "product" while the income is generally maintaining a teasing trickle. I don't know when that will become a pleasing and steady stream, but there are certain indicators that it will. Of course I'd continue creating either way.

What about setting my own hours? That's easy. I do. How long is a day? Answer that, remove 6-7 hours for sleep and fill the rest with mostly work-related stuff. It is generally on my own terms, which is nice. I wake up and jump into a routine that includes; stretching out my aging limbs through some yoga-related exercises (I haven't heard my wife break into uproarious laughter yet); a romp through some morning readings; a scan of my scheduled work; and a quick look at messages. Except for the yoga-like stuff, I do this all while I drink my coffee. Then I'm off to the races. My hours from there forward revolve around whatever students, rehearsals, and shows may be scheduled, and filling every other waking hour with work like writing this blog, booking and promoting shows, working through my own musical skill sets, follow-up on whatever hundredth email sits on top of my inbox, and the myriad other things required to maintain and expand my career. Remember, I'm pretty much a one-man operation that creates, produces, books and promotes, schedules and does public appearances and interviews, teaches and coaches, and maintains the flow of information to the public from this one overactive imagination. Somehow, I manage to keep it all moving. Much of it has to do with simply completing what's in front of me and moving to the next thing. It also involves a lot of trust in myself and the use of tools from my spiritual life. My days are full, but complete. Hopefully before 10pm, my wife and I will sit down to dinner. Days off are something I have to plan on, and I do. Mental health matters. So does my marriage. So do my friends and other family.

But I'm doing what I love, right? Indeed I am. And although it pays my bills, the monetary aspect is not all there is to it. The simple act of doing it is not all there is either. There's more. There's the unseen or as-yet-rarely-thought-of aspect of on-going growth as a human being and artist. Herein lies some of the most amazing rewards of this enterprise. This is what's so great about doing what you love.

I've found that possibly the most fascinating aspect of doing what I love is this: the constant growth I experience as a human being. I am in a regular state of what Buddhists call Human Revolution. In order for my work to continue to expand, in order for me to continue to improve on my ability to do so many things effectively (assuming I do), in order that I can fulfill my personal attachment to teaching others, I must undergo almost daily self-reflection. I miss the boat some days, for sure. But for the most part, I spend a planned amount of time every day in front of myself (so to speak), reflecting on what's working, what's not, the why and wherefore, and what's a good next step in this moment. It's truly delightful to me. I love that I really want to continue to learn and grow at age 52. I hope it never goes away. I love finding I was doing something wrong by discovering a better approach. I love realizing a new take on an old song. I'm thrilled when a student shows me something I hadn't thought of after 25 years of teaching. I hope I never feel the need to stop this. But, I'm human. I will tire out. What then? I'll remind myself to play through the tape and see one end or another. I'll be reminded why I'm doing this. I'll shrug my shoulders matter-of-factly and continue. Thanks for being a part. Thanks for being a sounding board. I hope you haven't become bored. I hope you never will.

Peace and loving the arts,





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