I have frequently asked myself this question in the past.
Today I ask it about my music.
What am I afraid of?
I watched It Might Get Loud again. Still amazing. Even more amazing, watching how these guys revere and respect each other, truly interested in what the other is saying.
But it occurred to me at one point that I think if I were actually to know one of these guys, to spend a lot of time around them, we could probably have delightful conversation about lots of things and they probably enjoy and pursue a variety of passions. And yet, when I would get them on the subject of the electric guitar or music, their passion would nearly disgust me. It happens frequently with oboists. If you've ever heard two oboists discussing cane and shaper tips, then you may understand in part. Normally this sort of shop talk annoys me, partially because I think I can't keep up, maybe? But seeing these three great guitarists talking shop, since it's not my shop talk, I guess, I think it's incredible. And I sometimes catch myself thinking "I wish I knew all of that, I wish I could think that way" and to a certain extent, I can! And yet, when I'm around oboists who know the oboe-equivalent of electric-guitar-shop-talk, I walk away from them and think "I could never be like that. I don't want to be. I don't want to become what it takes to be that guy, that oboist, principal of that orchestra."
I really could, if I wanted it. And there's a part of me that does want it, but not all of it. What don't I want? What am I afraid of?
I think I'm afraid of being weird. I know. Sad. Elementary school, even. But I'm still not convinced we ever change. I'm a little like Gregory House, M.D. in that way. It's like that Elizabeth & the Catapult song ... "we're all just taller children..." Some of us more taller than others. So I think I'm afraid of becoming the person that people walk away from shaking their heads and saying "wow. I don't ever want to be that way." Like if I really dig into the oboe, I'll lose my friends, I'll lose my respect - maybe even for myself. And maybe I will.
If I do, is it worth it?
But, then again, if I really dig into the oboe, I could just get what I'm trying for - a job playing music, and what I do with that job ... that's up to me. There are really mind-blowing musicians who are still approachable and relatable. Those are my favorite kind. Could I be one of those? I don't know that my friend would abandon me, I might draw them closer, because I can urge them on in their pursuits the way I've gone in mine. Maybe it's not about drawing people closer or pushing them away. If we each pursue our individual paths (assuming we have them) and we pursue them rightly, then if our paths are designed to line up, we will, and if not, we won't -- presumably.
But it takes effort. And I'm tired. Literally in this moment. And figuratively almost all of the time. But why am I tired? Maybe it's because I've been away from passion for so long, it's lost its excitement. Not really, but in my memory it has. I don't remember the effort being worth the result ... maybe it's just from a few bad experiences.
I don't know what all this means. I'm still working it out in my head, but I think an important question for me to be asking myself right now is:
What am I afraid of?