I didn’t really think about music as “art” when I was a kid. I didn’t think of myself as an “artist”when I began melody-making or lyric sketching. It was just . . .music. It was…a body part, like an eye or a foot. Something you don’t consider parting with . “Artists” were people with paintbrushes and sketchpads at the park.
I made music because I felt I must, but not because I expected it to be important to anyone else.
A couple of years ago, I was scheduled to write with another songwriter in Nashville…a writer who has won awards and had many more “cuts” than I have…and I was very uncomfortable from the start. It was apparent to me after the first five minutes that we probably weren’t going to “click” or find the common plain of understanding to draw from. More honestly, I wasn’t going to be able to write anything in that room. After 30 minutes of watching him strum his guitar and sing, as he leaned casually back in his desk chair, I apologized for not having any ideas (bad or good), at which he grinned and said:
“Hey man—it’s just music!”
He thought this would relax me, I guess, but I sort of felt like I’d been punched in the mental jaw. Just music? Seriously? Wow. If it’s “just music,” what have I been wasting my time (my family's time) on? If my work is merely something entertaining, to be tossed into existence without much concern or trepidation, then what can it be worth???
Just a painting.
Just a film.
I’ve just finished Seth Godin’s brand new book, Linchpin. He sent it to me (and 3,000 others) to read and write about. I loved it and will definitely be writing an offical review.
But the essence of this book is that you and I can choose to be artists.
By loving what we do and actively, creatively and generously sharing it with others. It is not only the songwriters and painters and dancers who add something unique and valuable to the world.
It is also the Royal Carribbean cruise attendants who bent over backwards to serve and please my friend and I last week.
It’s the electrician whose visit I will never forget because he had enough passion for wiring to light up a whole neighborhood.
It's the nanny who doesn't merely "watch" the children, but plans excursions and creates learning experiences with them, because she truly loves her work and sees its value.
It’s my mother who has spent a lifetime making an art of hugging and loving on people just because she can.
It’s the blogger who notices the metaphors of life and writes them into life-breathing prose, for free. (not referencing myself, but many of you!)
It’s the financial advisor who actually cares about his clients and takes the extra time to hear their stories and is willing to lose money in order to protect their interests.
It’s the 6-year-old boy who creates personalized cards and necklaces and journals from construction paper to gift every visitor to the house.
Who can you add to the list?
It matters, the unique qualities only you possess.
It matters that you labor over your work with love and care.
And it matters that you give it away.
It’s not “just” anything.