Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Journey is NOT a Race!

Thursday musings...

As I revamp my new year and question where I am and where I headed, and am a little older, and recognize I know less than I'd like to and still strive for more knowledge...

It occurs to me once again, what an artist's journey is about. What a performer in our business has to accomplish on a day to day basis and what this path is that we partake of each day.

Getting started in the studio this week and re-evaluating with singers what they are working toward for the year got me thinking about this path...

I wish I could tell you there is a direct line to "there". I wish I could tell you that you will have a job and "make it" and all those things when you get "there" but I cannot. As an artist, we do not have "there", we have "here". And "there" becomes "here" once we reach it.

The life of an artist and performer is not about arrival. It is not about getting there quickly or before someone else.

If you decide to become a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor - there is a definite path and way to achieve this goal and arrive. You make choices as to WHERE you go to define it, but there is one way to be a doctor. If you don't go to med school and follow the breadcrumbs you won't become a doctor.

As an artist and performer, this is just not the case. We are gypsies by nature and by life-style. We go where our talent leads us and where our talent is needed. If we don't, we must be willing to compromise in a healthy way to create where we are.

Those of us who have families, or are very much "home bodies" always find this difficult. It is a constant balance and compromise with the "gypsy" of artist and the "I wanna be home now" parts of our person.

The journey as an artist is not a race. It is not a race with self, with time nor with or against anybody else. The journey is simply, the journey.

SO - what questions do you need to ask yourself? What do you want of yourself? What do you ask OF yourself?

Are you requiring your BEST self at all times? And yet, are you ACCEPTING what the self can give, of what it is capable of giving in the moment, and is willing to give back?

Are you AWARE of where you are in the moment?

Some of us are so quick and process so intensely and quickly, that we are constantly ahead of ourselves - in everything! We have to work to be still, to KNOW, to be exactly where we are and not anticipate where we are going.

Are you free to allow the journey to stay fluid? To let it take you, feed you, coax you, shift you? Are you pliable enough as an artist to focus not on the finish line, but rather in the peripheral vision - where the REAL stuff happens?

Sometimes we focus so hard that we miss the truth. One foot in front of the other is fine as long as you keep your head up and stop when you are tired; stop when you see something that catches your attention and really LOOK!

Journey is process. Race is results. Journey is a kaleidoscope of possibilities. Race is black and white. Journey gives you a chance to breathe...Race makes you breathless.

And so - you get there first. What do you win ultimately? Where is everybody else? So what?

I continue to explore my journey; to remind myself to slow down; to be in my moment; to find stillness; to find that latent intense energy that makes me "artist" each day; to trust those intriguing peripheral sights and not despair when the path of the journey begins to wind elsewhere - but rather, rejoice in the adventure!

Race? No way. I am too tired and too old! I want to EXPERIENCE. Thus, I shall journey. At my own pace, in my own time, and BE JUST WHERE I AM!


  1. I needed to hear this today. Thank you!

  2. I love this post. I have re-read it a few times at leisure (I needed to; I was gulping it the first couple of times) and agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment. I'm still asking and re-asking those questions...
    As to the journey not being a race, I can speak to that from my own experience, as a late starter who has luckily found success, at an age when many have given up; well, there's always hope!!!

  3. Great post Susan! I've long maintained (to anyone who'll listen,) that singing is a great big war of attrition. Whomever is left standing at the end and doesn't jump ship when things get tough is (one of) the winner(s).

    There are a lot of ways to find success as an artist but there are significantly more ways to give up and go work in Insurance and so although everyone's journey is different, the important part is, to my mind, sticking with it albeit with enough flexibility to, as you put it, enjoy the moment.

    Really great post!

  4. Yes! Oui! Si! Ja!

    It is so true .... As I prepare for the birth of our first child, I have all these musical ideas in my head that I want to explore (composition, arranging, teaching, performing on my terms, recording projects)....The mind and soul of an artist must go on.

    Too often singers measure their success by winning a competition, music contract etc .... I measure my success against my values, what I want out of life and what I want to achieve...

    As a voice teacher, there is SO much that I want to learn in order to guide my pupils towards THEIR own success .....

    Race ? Who needs it!