Changing Career Part 5 - The myth of the dream job
Another key factor has been a fairly substantial shift in how I view my working life.
People tell me I'm being cynical when I say this next bit, but here goes anyway.
My motivation and philosophy for wanting to be a professional drummer was quite simple:
"I like playing drums. If I can earn a living from playing drums, if I can be paid to do what I love, then I won't ever have to do anything else. Surely that is the very best life."
But I think the idea that following your hobby as a career is the best way to find fulfilling work is not an especially reliable one. As I have discovered, the life of a musician is made up of many more elements than just being paid to do your hobby, and these elements should be considered carefully.
If the dream job means getting paid to spend every day doing what you do for fun and pleasure, then I think it can be a very elusive dream. And for many reasons, I think chasing it has the potential to lead to a lot of misery.
But if we view our working lives as a resource for the world, I think that gives us a perspective that is much more healthy. I have heard people say that we ought to be searching for meaning or value rather than happiness, and I think this what I am getting at.
Samuel L. Jackson said "If you do what you love, you never have to do a day's work in your life."
But I think "work" itself gets bad press. It implies doing something that we'd rather not. But if there is meaning and value behind what we do - if it serves to help people in need and make the world a better place - work, although it can be hard....well, work....I think can be rewarding, joyful and fulfilling.
Moreover as I become more and more aware of my privileged position in the world, I feel I can no longer be apathetic towards it's problems.
The world does not need me to fight against all the other drummers in London to try to get a chair on Wicked. But the world does have fundamental needs, and I am capable person and I can help.
At this point I feel it is worth clarifying that I still believe those who work in music or any other art are of course making the world a better place. I know that I for one have had a much richer life precisely because certain people have been able to commit theirs to their art; from the rock bands that inspired me to join a band when I was 13, (Who I am I kidding? Bands? Plural? It was just the Red Hot Chili Peppers wasn't it Millest?!) the music tutors who inspired and encouraged me along the way, to my great life-long friends who I have met in the industry. It is important that we live in a world where it is viable to have a profession in the arts.
I am simply making the case for what I feel about my own career.
To make my point, I would like to finish this piece using a rather more helpful quote given to me by a different pro-drummer than the one mentioned in part 4.
"Professional musicians are people who can't do anything else, either through passion or ability."
i.e. Musicians are people who can't do anything else either because music means so much to them that they couldn't imagine committing their lives to anything else, or people who simply lack the capability to do anything else.
In truth, I think most musicians who think they fall into the latter category are probably doing themselves a disservice, so the argument concerning passion is the more relevant here.
The validity of the statement is up for debate, but it certainly struck a chord with me. I have finally been able to admit to myself that I am simply not as passionate about the drums as others around me.
I don't care what type of wood my snare drum is made from. Though I can appreciate his mastery, I get bored watching videos of Vinnie Colaiuta. And what's a flam-a-diddle-diddle for anyway?
I can imagine myself doing something else, and I think it might be useful if I did. Perhaps I didn't need to write a 5 part blog series; that last sentence pretty much says it all.
This marks the end of this series of blogs explaining why I am changing career. I have said that I will write about what I plan to do next, and this will come next week. Thanks very much reading.