This might seem logical at first sight, but when real life hits, it is not so easy to implement. May be a well off person can follow this excellent advice without needing to figure out the money aspect of it. And what is even more difficult? Putting aside the many voices and prejudices against money and freedom that your family has unwillingly, and unwittingly, passed on to you about how a good life is made. Not just your family, all of society.
The other day, for example, I was at my son's awards ceremony, and we were sitting at a table with other proud parents. Well, at the table was the godfather of one of the kids, handing free advice. He asked my son what he was planning to study in college (even though he is just graduating from the 8th grade...) and my son decided to say that he was thinking of becoming a famous singer, something he has been saying as a joke for the last few months. I am starting to believe he actually believes it, but that's another story. For this story, the godfather's response is what matters. He said: "Do something like engineering first and keep singing as a hobby." Not in those words, but that was what he meant. I was told such comments many times, enough times to send me into several different majors in college and about the same number of professions, or more, afterwards. And years later, only when I realized that life is actually short, it has been a struggle for me to stay put in my decision to continue to be an artist no matter what. Actually, it is not a "no matter what decision." If I ever become so poor that I am unhappy, I will change direction, but that would need to be extreme. But for my son, whose life is much better than mine at his age, who has the support of his parents, who has the right and the opportunity to pursue his dreams, and who even has a mother who has decided to be an artist against all odds, why should he compromise? And, does anybody have the right to give that kind of advice when they have never felt the joy of giving the gift?
The gift, or the talent we have been given in this world, is a very sacred thing. Luckily, not all people have the arts gift, because the world would be even more unhappy. Rotten gifts are very stinky, sour, bitter. Those who have these gifts, cannot keep them to themselves. If you do, it will rot inside you, make you bitter and pestilent. The gift is not just something we have, but something that must be cared for, nourished and regifted. Yes, like my grandmother, who when you give her a gift, gives it away to someone else full of joy. She gives away what she appreciates the most.
But that is precisely the problem. Like the godfather taught my son, we are taught to disregard our gifts, and to hide them so they won't interfere with society's plans for what should be.
What is the world like when you keep your gift from it? In my case, if I had not started painting, I would never have helped bring healing to people's hearts and create more love, peace and joy in the world. Not everyone responds to visual art, but those who do make me believe that I am not wasting my time being stubborn about doing what I do. I know that "love, peace and joy" are abstract concepts that cannot be measured, but numbers have nothing to do with this. Changing the heart of one person is enough to affect countless lives. Just think of how many people just one person comes in contact with every day. If the seed of joy is in a person's heart, these interactions will be so much better, and effective in passing on the gift. When I edited textbooks and thought I might be harming little children with my participation in that big scam, I did not bring any peace or joy to the world. Now that I have to actually do business for a living, a concept many artist consider pretty dirty, I know that I am passing on my gift. I charge for the materials and the time and the blood and tears, but the love is free, liberated, fulfilled!
As for my son, I have never seen the singing spirit become alive in him, but I will not be the one to tell him he can't realize his dream if that is what he really wants. He is a great songwriter and that might be something he can bank on. I suspect the godfather wanted to be an actor when he was younger, but someone told him that it would be a good hobby. As for my several friends who have quit their jobs or plans of study to go after a dream after I have inadvertently blurted out aloud my philosophy of life, I have to believe they were already thinking it and I just made their thoughts aloud.
Doing art for a living is a big leap of faith, but one that nobody regrets, even those who quit. But I am not giving up anytime soon!