Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Commitment and Motivation

We are committed to going to our job because we are paid for our work – we are motivated to do so because we must earn to provide for the necessities of life, e.g. food, clothing, and shelter. Without meeting these basic needs we can not survive. So commitment and motivation are clearly linked, but they are not mutually exclusive – each can exist in a weak state without the other. But when they are in alignment, they work together synergistically, creating a state where anything seems to be possible.

It’s easy to see these concepts working together in our daily lives. In order to fully commit to something, one must be really motivated. You’re not going to commit to going to the gym 3 or 4 days a week for decades without some strong motivation. You’re not going to get a Masters or Doctorate degree without some serious motivation. You are certainly not going to subject yourself to a painful experience in order to achieve some goal without some powerful motivation.

So what’s the motivation for creating art? This is where things become kind of mysterious, even to those of us who do it. It becomes even weirder when there is no money involved. I remember after I made my last album, someone I worked with asked me why I did it – it clearly wasn’t something I was doing to make money. Without hesitating, I said “Because I am compelled to.” The answer didn’t make sense to me or the person who asked the question. What exactly did I mean? Who or what was “compelling” me to make music that almost no one would hear? I’m not talking about casually making something – I’m talking about spending a lifetime obsessively studying, practicing, writing, creating, and producing recordings of music. I am at a point in my life where I am struggling with this, not quite sure if I “should” be spending my time doing something that might benefit society in a more tangible way. I don’t even know what I am pursuing – is it just a compulsive need to express myself in music? What greater purpose does this serve? Does it serve any purpose at all? Does anything we do (outside of helping others) really serve any purpose?

I have always been fascinated by (and felt a kinship to) “outsider artists.” If this a term new to you, it’s worth exploring. Look up “Henry Darger.” Whatever you read could never prepare you for actually seeing his art in person. Are we doing this to express our humanity?