Let’s say you do something marginally well. You’re not a star, but you are pretty good at it. Then you see someone who absolutely owns that thing and is a star doing it. Does that energize you? Or do you just want to say “Fine! Forget it. I’ll never get to be that good, so why even try?”
I heard a fantastic concert by some world class brass players yesterday, and I’m still on the fence about how the concert made me feel. The sound was rich and lush, they were so in tune and balanced, and the musical interpretations were thoughtful and thought-provoking. Their last notes were as strong as their first. They looked like they loved every note, and I was spell-bound throughout. They performed some music I had played back when I was surrounded by talented players (in college) and some I just hadn’t heard in a long time, and I longed to be up there playing. I also knew I never would be.
When do you get to be too old to pursue dreams that require consistent training and improvement? When is it “too late” to just chuck caution to the wind and renew an old effort? And even though you know you won’t make it to “world class” status, how good do you need to be to make all that work make you as happy as they were today, in their element? How good would be good enough?
So – practice like a madwoman and search out playing opportunities far and wide, giving up other stuff that I do? Or pack the instrument in it’s case and resign myself to occasionally buying tickets to enjoy listening to others playing music I love?
The jury is still out.