I’m a huge music buff and one of my favourite bands is a band that is no stranger to Canadians: The Tragically Hip. The Tragically Hip have many brilliant songs with many brilliant lyrics, but one of my favourite lyrics from the song “Ahead By A Century” has this little lyrical gem:
“No dress rehearsal, this is our life.”
The sentiment of this line – that you only live once, so make the bloody most of it – is what drives me not only as an artist but as a human being as well.
Too often, you see people sitting, talking about “what ifs”, with regret. “Well, I could have been a musician if only my parents had put me in music lessons at a younger age.” Or, “I could have accomplished “x” if only my circumstance wasn’t “y”.
If you have a passion for anything, it’s up to you and no one else to follow that passion and make the most of it, whether it be photography, art, music or family. Will there be roadblocks along the way? Yes. Will things always work out the way you want them to? No. Not everyone who sets out to reach a goal will reach that goal, and there will be some disappointments along the way.
But I think the biggest thing that prevents people from ever trying to pursue something they think would give them a sense of purpose or accomplishment is the lack of focus, the fear of failure, or what other people may think (how many times have you hesitated posting your work for fear of what others may think?). The result of which is a lot of people telling themselves they can’t do something, rather than “I can”.
I haven’t accomplished everything I’ve set my mind to (far from it), and often I move from goal to goal to goal. Right now, I want, badly, to learn to play an instrument. And I know as a fact that if I dedicated a half hour a day for the next year to an instrument I would learn it reasonably well. I wouldn’t master it, but I’d know enough of it that I would be able to play a song with confidence. But my mind and my interests are scattered, so at the moment I’m “learning” six instruments, not one. Piano, bodhran, guitar, bagpipes, harmonica, and tin whistle. Completely unfocused. I just love them all, and I bounce between the six. I’m getting marginally better at each, but still, overall, I’m pretty terrible at each. I’m still having fun in the process, but I know I would be able to accomplish the goal of knowing an instrument well if I did focus. It may not happen, and I’d only have myself to blame for it.
What am I trying to say? Nobody’s going to make your dreams, your interests, your passions happen for you… only you can do that. If you focus and set a goal (i.e. “I want to absolutely master long-exposure photography”), I firmly believe you can achieve it. But even if you aren’t dead set on achieving an end goal (“I must master this”), set yourself the goal of simply having fun in the process. Tell yourself, “I will not be frustrated in this pursuit… I view this pursuit as fun.”
Live each day with the thought that you’re one day closer to death. Because you are. I don’t mean that to be depressing, but rather as a wake-up. We’re all here, finitely. Each day that passes is a day less that you have to do something; a day less to create that spectacular piece of art that’s been burning in your brain, to master that instrument, to love, and to connect.
No dress rehearsal…this is your life.