It seems I live, and have lived, where many do not feel comfortable. I know this because many offer me advise, or make comments, about how I make my life’s choices. I have discovered that there are four basic styles of advise that themselves are based upon two basic ways of interpreting experience.
The first of the styles is declarative: “There is no way I would do what you are doing!” The second of the styles is patronizing and based on a superficial reading of my artist’s poverty: “Oh Hilary, you are just so talented, I just don’t understand how you can come up with so many ideas. I wish I could do that, but I’d never put my family what you put yours through.” These two styles are based upon fear. Fear to achieve, fear to succeed, fear to stand out, fear to fail, fear to rise above the norm of mediocrity, fear to be noticed, fear to be judged as they have judged me: these are some, but not all of the fears wrapped up in these folk, and it seems to me that for many, I represent the dream that they have rejected because of their own fears.
The third and the fourth styles are positive and affirmative. The positive comment goes like this: “Wow! I usually hate the harmonica, but after hearing you play I think I’ll go out and buy some for myself and see what I can do with them.” The affirmative style of comment is like this: “Man, oh man, I just love that you do! You come up with the best music and words!”
I do try to live out of possibility. Performing on stage, taking a walk in the evening, or writing songs at my desk, each moment of my life presents a set of challenges and choices. Sometimes the challenges are so huge I quail before them, and sometimes they are small and of little moment except to notice them and move on. The choices I make are many times small, but they always seem to be directional in terms of my life’s journey.
Two years ago, as many of my friends began talking about retirement, I began my movement toward a new career. I don’t want to ever retire! I resigned my teaching positions and my job as curator of an art gallery, and began to phase out photography, so I could concentrate full time on a career as a songwriter.
I did not start to write songs then. I’ve been writing songs since 1973. But two years ago I decided that songwriting was the one thing I have never accomplished, and I have not accomplished it because I have not given it my full attention. I have been successful at everything I have tried, but I had never actually committed myself to succeeding as a songwriter.
Will I succeed? I’m betting I will. I am looking at the possibility and not the fear. I could be afraid, but I have chosen to be out-of-my-mind-excited by the possibility of success as a songwriter. I love possibility!