At this point in my life, I feel strongly that the meaning of life is something close to this: “do what you were put here on earth to do, and do it in the service of others.” You probably know that I was put here to teach and perform music. And for me, ‘serving others’ means that when I teach I’m in the service of my students, and when I perform I’m in the service of the song (or the music).
That idea, in and of itself, is worth a thousand blog posts, but I’ll set that aside for now.
Right now I want to tell a story about one small part of this: the idea that being good at lot of different things is like all of our other strengths–it has an equally powerful flip side, and it can both help you and hurt you. This story is also about the idea that sometimes the circuitous route is the best path.
I could be described as a person that is good at a lot of things: not only teaching and performing music, but also things that have value in a more corporate-type job setting. Things like training, research, buying, a deep product knowledge in music, etc.
This means that there are a fair number of jobs/careers that I can do for a living. And that is both good and bad. To the good, it gives me a fair amount of variety in my life, and I’m definitely someone who craves variety, and can get bored easily.
The challenging part of this is that it’s too easy to lose your way and get buried in work that is not aligned with what you were put here on earth to do. I now know that I was put here to teach and perform music. The problem is that it took me a very long time to get around to this realization (I was in my late-40’s), mainly because I was making a lot of money in corporate jobs and I let that get in the way of finding my true path.
In fact, I’m envious of folks who have been focused on one thing their whole lives. Folks who seem to have known from the beginning what they were put here to do, and have had a singular focus on that their whole lives. Maybe it’s because that’s the only thing they’re good at, but I think that in most cases, it’s more likely that they weren’t interested in working on developing any other skill set. They wanted to do that one thing, and they focused all of their energy on doing it the best they could.
So, how does this relate to the idea that sometimes the circuitous route is the best path?
As I look back on my life and see all the different things I’ve pursued as a vocation, I’m settling on this idea: All that stuff needed to happen before I could truly embrace what I was really put here to do. Another way of saying that is if I had not taken those other paths, and instead pursued teaching and performing music to the exclusion of everything else right out of school, I would have regretted it. Maybe not as much as I regretted not pursuing music sooner, but I would have still had some regret. I would have regretted not pursuing things like research, training & mentoring. I would have regretted not knowing if I could succeed at a corporate job.
So yeah–at least for me, sometimes the circuitous route is the best path.
I suppose it’s possible that I’ve simply created this idea by rationalizing my past decisions and career paths, but that doesn’t feel right to me. I really believe this is the way that it was meant to be–or at least a lot of it, at least the main gist of it.
OK…enough writing about the past, on the the next, on to the idea of ‘what’s happening now’. Cheers!