Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Tuning Slide 3.34- Passion and Doing What You Love

Weekly Reflections on Life and Music

Nothing is as important as passion.
No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.
— Jon Bon Jovi

We continue to look at the theme of attitude. Here’s this week’s quote from the summary board at last summer’s Trumpet Workshop:

✓ Love What You Do - Do What You Love
A Sidenote to start: I don’t usually like to start on a cautionary note that could bring us down. But as I was researching this week I had a strong realization that statements like this can be both helpful and harmful. I read insights that said, if you don’t love what you do in your job, quit and find out what you love to do. Without getting into sociology or politics, that is a great statement for any of us who have some place of privilege in the world. But not everyone can do that with what brings in the bread! I am one of the fortunate and privileged ones who has more freedom and opportunity than many. There are many, however, who can very well be stuck in a job that brings no pleasure. It becomes simply a way to pay the bills. This post is not about that. This post is about finding what you are passionate about no matter what you do for a living. We can all find some way of doing that even if you don’t have a job that you can love.
So, then, let’s get that quote again:

✓ Love What You Do - Do What You Love

I am not first and foremost a trumpet player. I have been fortunate enough to have “day jobs” that I loved and that allowed me the opportunities and freedoms to pursue my trumpet passion. I was also passionate about my vocations and careers. I didn’t exactly expect it to work that way and to this day I shake my head in amazement. You see forty-some years ago I would meet “retired” ministers, my profession at the time, who just couldn’t seem to let go of being pastors. “Why don’t they just retire and enjoy what they have. They’ve earned it!” was my general comment.

Now I am in the position to finally understand what they didn’t tell me- because I never asked. They loved what they did! It was not work, as such. Sure, they probably liked the extra income, but they did it as much out of the joy of doing it as anything. I call myself “semi-retired” today because I don’t work full-time. But as I turn 70 years old this year I still enjoy what I do. Over the years I have fallen in love with what I do, not because it defines me, but because it gives me joy.

In a post on Huffington Post I found a quote from our old friend Steve Jobs:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
Even if you can’t do it with your “day job” it is often possible for most of us to find it in our passions. Sometimes it does take courage to follow your inner voice. Why, at age 65 did I start pursuing my trumpet playing to where it has by now become something that is an integral part of me? I am passionate about it. I can’t “quit” because I’m not done loving it yet. “All that time I spend practicing and going to rehearsals and gigs- aren’t there other things you want to do, Barry?” Sure- and I am doing them. But the music, now that’s something in its own unique place.

Even practicing long tones day in and day out. At least 10 minutes every day followed by 10-15 minutes of thirds or a triplet exercise. Every day. How boring.


Because it is part of what I am passionate about. It is not in my make-up to be mediocre about something I am passionate about. That has meant several things. First it means that in my life I have minimized the time I spend doing things that bore me- that don’t raise my passion. Again, I am fortunate to be in the privileged group that can do that. But even for me there were years when I couldn’t spend the amount of time at the trumpet that I am spending now. Today I can do it- and I am loving it. Balance your time and give yourself time to explore what you are passionate about.

Second, I am not easily bored. I have cultivated that attitude for my entire life. I am intrigued by what’s around me and what I don’t know yet. I may not be expert at many of these things, but I like learning and having some knowledge. That I also bring with me to whatever I am doing. Curiosity can add to passion as we want to see what we are able to do. Curiosity is "beginner's mind" that allows the newness in today to captivate you. Playing long tones can be interesting if you don’t feel you have to rush through them and get them done as some chore. They are far more than that. They help me move beyond mediocre. Cultivate curiosity as a seed of passion.

Third, do what you need to do today to improve where you will be tomorrow. Back to Steve Jobs’ comment above, life is limited, so stay in the moment and grow from here. If we allow the regrets from the past or the fears of the future to get in the way, we are missing the only time we have- today. That doesn’t mean don’t plan or dream. That means utilize where you are today to get where you will be tomorrow. Act today to grow the dreams for tomorrow.

When you pick up your horn today, be surprised at what passion you can bring to even the most mundane part of long tones or Clarke #1. Be surprised by what a difference it can make to find that you love what you are doing and grow from there.

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