Why Do We Do What We Do?

It's a heady question, isn't it? Why indeed?

Why do we follow the call to create something, write a song, perform on stage, write a novel? And why do we keep going even after a myriad of set-backs? After being told that there's no money in this, no future in that? The market is dead. Jazz is dead. Too many people are releasing crappy books, etc. The winds of adversity do blow harsh and unrelenting.

As a jazz vocalist and writer I have questioned my choices many, many times. Am I wasting my life chasing after the impossible dream? Should I settle down, get a job somewhere, have a family? While there is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing such a life, I simply can't do that. I don't have it in me. The older I get the more I want to go for what interests me, what challenges me. I want to listen to that nagging voice in my head that keeps yakking on about this melody, or that story.

Don't get me wrong. I am not sleeping under a bridge, sifting through garbage. In fact, my life circumstances are pretty comfortable. I make enough money to have food on the table, go out to the occasional dinner and buy new clothes at some discount store. But I do spend a very large chunk of my time working on my voice, my novel, my new songs. Time I could spend doing things that don't interest me quite as much but hold the promise of a whole lot more steady income.

However, I find myself shrinking away from fully committing to the money gig. Every day is a challenge to carve out enough time for my creative endeavors while making rent, working out how to balance what I need with what I am passionate about.

 How is my quest relevant to the world at large? How do I contribute with my particular circus act of plate spinning? I think, looking at the bigger picture, as artists, we strive to speak and live our truth. To follow the call of the heart, the flame of creativity that burns, sometimes a roaring fire, and sometimes barely a flicker. I think the world would be utterly dull and boring, if we didn't allow or encourage such a pursuit. And while I follow my very own set of follies for purely egotistical reasons - having created gives me great satisfaction, and performing is thoroughly energizing - I do believe that by doing so I might blaze a path for another to follow. For one more person to listen to their very own call and get going on that long, winding journey with impossible odds and an unclear outcome.

At the very least, it beats watching TV for 4 hours every day.

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