Last week I posted a message about sticking to what you love despite the challenges.
It was an honest and vulnerable admission about overcoming common struggles as an artist, entrepreneur and parent.
When I finished writing it I ended with a question asking what your biggest struggles were and how you overcome them. I clicked send.
I was so surprised at the mixed & powerful responses from around the world. Some of which I'd like to share.
One woman in the UK who is a professional film score composer and singer/songwriter named Sarah immediately related and said , “I know exactly how you feel…I had six months where I could not write a note and had to spend a lot of time keeping my spirits up, when underneath I was really heart sick. The most difficult paths usually lead to the most remote and beautiful places.
I had a good friend who is a successful businessman send me a message that both offered advice (because that's the kind of warm-hearted person he is). His message also explained to me how no one really cares about your problems and we just have to learn to solve them on our own. A little tough love.
A man named Sebastian wrote me. He is currently floating in the sea aboard a cruise ship where he is now working after quitting his old unfulfilling corporate life in Germany. He admitted, “Yes I earn less money than before. I’m really afraid to come back home an restart. I’m sure the first months will be rough, but I guess love and the trust that everything happens for a reason can guide you through everything.”
I had an artist friend of mine tell me how the art process is easy for him. “However”, he continued. “the hardest part is selling it. Right Jay?”
What caught me was the “Right Jay?“, as if it was so completely obvious to be THE obstacle.
I even got a text message from an old college fraternity brother and roommate. I haven't talked to him at any length in about six years. But after he read my newsletter, he felt compelled to ask me if I needed to talk because I seemed troubled.
I assured him that I was doing great, so was my family.
One of the most touching responses was from Dan, an art collector of mine and father of an autistic son in Maryland who shared his struggles. Here's an excerpt.
“I try to remind myself that the world is all one big mystery. We don’t know what it is all about or what happens when it ends..don’t judge it, experience it, be in awe of it, celebrate that we have emotions and can feel pain – that’s a damn miracle in itself”
None of these responses were taken lightly. I appreciated them all and thought deeply after reading each.
Here's some of what I observed and learned.
1. There is no reality. We all look at life and our roles with a different perspective. We all approach life with varying strengths and weaknesses and we bring our biases of past experiences. I often play devils advocate where I argue against points I truly believe. I debate against myself to try and see all sides. This drives my wife crazy, but it helps see many sides that you may have otherwise ignored.
2. Doing what's easy gets you no where. What is a struggle for one person, comes easy to the next. That's ok. Use this as a sign of what you can or should improve upon. Our struggles aren't there to knock us down, they're there to show us what needs more attention. If you stink at something, are you willing to face it and take the criticism from others and yourself? Evolvement and growth happens when adversity is overcome. A weed must push through a sidewalk crack to find light.
3. There is no one right way. Just because you have a view of how things should be done doesn't mean it's right, or wrong for that matter. Maybe what you avoid doing is exactly what could help others or yourself. What belief have you always had could you challenge? What methods have you always used that you could do differently just to see what happens?
4. Challenge yourself. If you're great at something, maybe it's time to switch things up. Maybe that means get out of your comfort zone. I like being at the edge of comfort as often as I can. For me this means learning new skills that I probably will suck at or trying a new technique or painting a new genre even though it's not what's expected of me.
5. The world rewards authenticity. Everything isn't as easy as it looks. This was my point and reading everyone's responses proved that. Everyone in one way or another showed me some vulnerability and I thank you all. It takes courage to let your guard down. Do that more.
6. Nothing is obvious like it is to you. When you are making art or parenting or in a Facebook war with your crazy relative, remember that what seems blatantly obvious to you, isn't to others. (see #3). Art is subjective, so is music. So is our perspective on the world that shapes our reality.
Billy Joel said it best:
“You may be right, I may be crazy.
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for.
Turn out the light. Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know.
But you may be right”
Lots of love to you all.