There’s a beautiful piece of writing, by the pianist James Rhodes, which after reading several times I’m only now beginning to truly appreciate.
It’s a heartfelt request to forego at least some of the trite habitual activities that inhabit part of our days. He reminds us to recall our childhood dreams or adult aspirations, kick aside the inertia (fear) of getting started and steadfastly carve out the time to pursue, struggle and suffer for a goal.
James Rhodes writes, “We seem to have evolved into a society of mourned and misplaced creativity. A world where people have simply surrendered to (or been beaten into submission by) the sleepwalk of work, domesticity, mortgage repayments, junk food, junk TV, junk everything, angry ex-wives, ADHD kids and the lure of eating chicken from a bucket while emailing clients at 8 pm on a weekend.”
Later in his thoughtful article, Rhodes makes an argument for us to consider going after our dreams.
And then he tells us that the pursuit will likely be ridiculously difficult and time-consuming. Will be exceedingly frustrating and in the end, may only result in the internal satisfaction of doing something you couldn’t do before. And yet, he suggests that alone is often a sufficiently small miracle and satisfaction enough.
In the case of James Rhodes, when after ten years of not playing the piano, he left his corporate job and spent the next five years with no income, practicing six hours a day; and in the process lost his wife, 35 pounds and spent nine months in a mental institution.
Was it worth it? He says it was for him. Have a listen to him playing the piano.
A caveat. By no means am I advocating anyone committing herself or himself to a life of ruin? But at the same time, the article at least for me is a reminder that we should embolden ourselves to at least consider chasing down and running to ground an abandoned dream.
There’s something romantic and appealing in that quest.
You can read the article by James Rhodes here. Print it out like I did and keep it in your wallet or posted on your bathroom mirror. Let it be a great reminder to reach further towards what calls us – whether our loves, our work, our art. Whether that’s family, career or something else.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day. The mind-numbing, never ceasing focus of “keeping the wheels” on a job. Doing more with less. Going with the flow. Grinding through uninspired.
Maybe we need to take some inspiration from the unorthodox. The unreasonable ones. The ones like James Rhodes wrenching themselves into a new form. The people described by in the Apple ad “Here’s to the Crazy Ones.”
And that’s what I think is meant by the term, “Find what you love and let it kill you.” Commit to doing great work, and invest your life force.
Lots of people have done it, and given us these lessons along the way.
a) The Benefit of Doing
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” Good advice from a Nobel prize winner who plays continue to be performed more than 100 years after having been written.
Comedian and author Ruby Wax wasn’t afraid of doing. She put together a comedy show called Losing It, which she started out performing for small audiences within mental institutions. Eventually, she took it on the road and then invited doctors to attend so they could help audience members who needed mental help.
Ruby Wax suffered from severe depression herself and wanted to better understand why. A doctor told her it’d be too difficult for her to understand, so Ms. Wax enrolled in Oxford University and got a Master’s on the topic of neuroplasticity. It was this knowledge that she humorously credits with helping her manage her life.
b) Get Comfortable With Discomfort
No explanation needed.
c) Art for Art’s Sake
Some people are overly focused on an end result. Vincent van Gogh painted over 800 paintings in his lifetime, and although he tried to sell sell sell… he only sold a SINGLE painting during his lifetime.
His work was so underappreciated, that a painting van Gogh gave to a physician in lieu of payment, was used by the doctor to cover a hole in the roof of a chicken coop. Even the work of children typically makes it to exhibit on the refrigerator.
THOMAS TRIUMPH is a hands-on technology executive who helps large organizations act more nimbly in the market and small companies scale. Leading marketing and business development, he has launched numerous technology products and led cross-functional teams – including participating in two technology revolutions – less invasive medical devices and the Internet/software. Tom has been a part of some remarkable technology and business growth success stories (as well as some misfires). Building submarines out of 55-gallon drums in grade school, he eventually fulfilled a childhood dream of living aboard a research ship (Jacques Cousteau was on the Board of Directors) and tending to the mini-sub. Tom has also wrestled in the Olympic Trials, founded a consumer electronic company, and worked for leading companies to help launch and lead: medical device products, software, SaaS, Internet companies, professional consulting services, and 25 ton hovercraft built entirely from composite materials. This broad background has resulted in two unique characteristics – the depth of skill that allows Tom to contribute to the technical, business and creative process; and the disposition for collaboration across disciplines. He’s an enthusiastic and collaborative team player who maintains a good sense of humor. Contact – LinkedIn – Twitter
Photo Credit – raheel9630