I just finished reading a brief essay by Colum McCann in an issue of the New Yorker. In it he describes his father’s influence on his own writing career. I often wonder what the back story is of many of my idols and if they mirror my own or move to shame my excuses for neglecting my own work.
It would be so easy to pass off my “experiments in limitation” as someone else’s fault. My father’s for instance. But, then, what about all those people who suffered more than I who have created such brilliance from the ash of cruelty and neglect?
Ultimately, the only truth in creative output or excellence in any form is the internal desire to either compete or simply create. Some Of us are crushed under our familial burdens and some are lifted up. Some are given open doors and paved roads, some must batter at the beams and endure ravaged soles.
I am loathe to admit that it is us alone at decides if we follow our desires and interests. With so many examples of success met in so many personal scenarios I must continue to evaluate what it is that I want and how much I am willing to do for the end result.
This is what I must also teach my students and my son. You may take on a challenge or you may love lithe idea of a job or hobby, but do you want to live the hardships along with the elation that comes with sticking to the plan–the requirements of success? It’s OK to say no. It just means that you have other paths to follow, and, perhaps, those paths are paved with the gold you didn’t know you had inside.