Sometimes I feel that the right decisions are elusive or maybe not even apparent at the time. Is it bad luck, poor decision making, or just the tough lessons of life that put us in the position to look back and say, "Yeah, that was not the best choice." Sure, we have 20/20 vision when considering decisions of the past, but at times, I can not shake the feeling that I am learning the "hard" lesson a little too often. Maybe it is just the time and day. It's early and we are still house-bound with snow here in Canada. Well, it is hard to know what any decision will bring - what the outcome will be immediately after you have chosen one path of the fork in the road. Time will be the ultimate test, and I may have made the right choice after all.
You may be really pumped about a project and then when it comes to realizing the work, those involved in the project might be less jacked that you are. Do not let them bring you down. You investing great time and energy into it and in your heart, you know you have created something special, so ignore them. This happens in music sometimes. As a composer/arranger, especially one that tries to different, you will write some interesting and unique sounds and they will not be to everyone's taste. That is OK. Keep to your vision, revise what doesn't work, listen to informed criticism, but stay on track. You have something to offer the world, or at least your little corner of it.
My Dad always loved this saying. He believed that busy people had to be well organized and therefore, productive. I think you might have to amend this saying and say . . . ask a busy person who is accountable or who has regular due dates, as you can be busy and just spin your wheels. I find that what I have to accomplish expands to fill the time I have, so I need those deadlines to keep me on track. So, like any saying, there is partial truth to be found there.
I just finished creating a module in a course entitled Introduction to Humanities (online) and part of it is a TED Talk called "Stop searching for your passion." Basically, the gist of it is that success fuels passion and not the other way around. So, if you wait your whole life for passion to inspire your life, your life will not get started. I found this interesting and informative. One of my passions is arranging music and it is part of my career portfolio. Now I could feed that passion to the exclusion of everything else, but doing so lead could lead to a more difficult path in life and possibly hardship. If I struggled in life, could I continue to indulge my passion?
Now, if any future or current employer reads this, do not get me wrong. I love everything I do and everything I teach, but I could make this argument about any of the facets of my career, which I am passionate about. If I put all the eggs in one basket and that basket comes crashing down, where does that leave me? It is a bit of a different view than the one that emphasises feeding your passion and making that your life's work. Anyway, something to think about. So, I will repeat the take away from the TED talk - success (in whatever field) fuels passion and not the other way around.
I love working from home. I like the fact that I can walk down to my "man cave" with my coffee and settle in for the day. I like the fact that I do not have to commute an hour and a half to the city. I like the fact that, on occasion, I can watch Netflix with lunch. I like the fact that I do not have a neighbour in the next stall coughing every few seconds. However . . . I hate the fact that my wife (on maternity leave) can ask me for a favour at any time, merely by opening the basement door. I hate the fact that I can hear everything, and I mean everything, that my wife and my youngest daughter are doing above me, although I love them both dearly. I hate the fact that I continually tell the duct cleaners that our ducts are just fine and that they should stop calling us. I hate the fact that my couch actually calls to me and dares me to take a nap. I hate the fact that my wife loves to play the piano, as I get distracted by any noise, even beautiful music. Hopefully, these thoughts brought a smile to your face. There is truth to them.
Man, I hate pride. The kind of pride that makes you check how many times people visited your website or the kind of pride that bugs you to check whether the basketball association posted the correct number of baskets you scored in the last game. I do these things but really, who cares? The important thing is that you are happy with the product you are putting out on the web and that you had enjoyable time at the last game, and maybe burned off a few calories. By writing this, I am hoping to reinforce this better man, as I know that I make greater progress when I do not give a damn, whether that is playing the trombone or shooting a jump-shot. Throw caution to the wind and see what happens. I think you (and I) will be happy with the results.
As I was crazily running around this moring, trying to figure out what to do first, my wife reminded that "This day is yours." Basically, this life is mine to either run myself ragged or to stop, take a breath and enjoy it. Wise words. After she said that, things seemed a little more clear and I knew everything was going to be OK.
Wanting to enjoy #Christmas. Why is my biggest workload at the "happiest" time of year? #highereducation #family
I love my job and what I do, but I hate how the work is dispersed (some might argue that it is never ending). Everyone thinks that teachers have it easy. Summers and the "right" holidays off. However, for those of us who work in higher education, any break is supposed to be dedicated to research and travel to conferences. This can be very fulfilling but also a real source of stress at home. Christmas time for me is always a balance of research, prep for the new school term, family activities and last minute shopping. It is generally pressure filled, but for me, it is over-the-top. Next year, I may skip a conference, grab a hot cocco, and cuddle with a loved one by the fire.
As a perfectionist and a workaholic, among other things (yes, I am exaggerating a little), I am always torn about where to invest my time. Do I go back and revisit some older arrangements and improve them or do I forge forward and write some new music. Opening up some old files takes a little more initiative and nerve, as you invested significant time in the work and may have even celebrated the finish of those projects. Moving forward is good for the ego and maybe is healthier for the soul, as it encourages new paths, new thoughts and new beginnings. It is tough leaving something that you realize is imperfect or that could have had a different outcome, but perhaps, that is true about all artistic endeavours. So, Dr. K, maybe the path is a crooked one where it is slightly ahead but every once is while you make a detour to revisit some old projects.
So this morning my youngest was screaming - that is what she does, scream. No babbling at this stage for my 8 month year old - she just screams. There was some other catastrophe with my two other children and as I washed the dishes, I decided that I would join in with the scream-athon. When I "came to," I realized that 1) I needed to get away for a second and 2) that maybe there was a little too much on my plate at the moment. There are only so many hours in the day and I am only human. I will break when pushed to the limit. So, it is time to take a deep breath and push some of those work items off the plate. I will bend down and pick them up in a month or so.
Dr. Michael Kearns
Musician, educator, husband, father, web designer ... my life is like a mosaic with each piece vying for my attention.