Susan E contributed to my quest for questions with this: Over the years I have tried many different creative outlets but have mastered none. I am reminded of a story about Luciano Pavarotti that I’ll paste below. My question is how do you know where to put your time & energy? And how do you summon the courage to ‘sit on one chair”?
I”n a Guidepost story, the world renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti shares a story about growing up in Italy. “When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song,” he relates. “He urged me to work very hard and develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college.
On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’ “Luciano, my father replied,” if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.” I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera.
And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book—whatever we choose—we should give ourselves to it. Commitment is the key. Choose one chair.” http://salem-news.com/articles/may112010/musical-chairs-dd.php
Thank you Susan, for such a challenging question. I am going to try and provide you with an answer from my perspective. First, I will confess – I feel that I do not have the courage to “sit on one chair.” What I chose to do is focus my energy on art, and I will identify this as my main chair.
Art is my passion! After the first part of my life was spent pleasing parents and later meet my own family’s needs I finally gathered all my energy and courage to move forward with formal art training. At forty I began to pursue what I wanted to do at age sixteen.
I have not looked back. Moving forward, first with my formal training and eventually by building a body of work I was very focused on learning and producing. Eventually I was approached to teach and share my knowledge. I was hesitant as I felt I would not be taken seriously as an artist if I also taught workshops. After careful consideration I threw caution to the wind and moved into teaching.
My first career was also in teaching: Kindergarten to be exact. Sharing my art experience with adults has become the most rewarding work I have ever pursued. But, I keep asking myself if I am staying true to myself. The question is perpetual and much time is spent in contemplation.
Over the years I have come to the realization that creating art is an isolated activity. I live in a tiny community without like-minded people I can collaborate with close by. A creative community in the nearest city is always available for feedback and support. However, I have found that the best way for me to get better at what I do is to share, and that means teaching classes.
In summary: I have chosen several chairs. My first and most important chair is to be a studio artist. The secondary chair is the way I share what I have learned. Susan asked: “How do I know where to put my time and energy.” I consider myself an organized person, which sometimes hinders my flexibility. Once I embark on a new idea and project I tend to tune out distractions to the point of becoming unsocial and all absorbed. The goal I strive for is finding a healthy balance as I continue on my path.
I want to turn Susan’s very thought provoking question over to the readers. Have you had the courage to choose one chair? And how do you determine where to put your time and energy.