Today was a long day. I could barely get out of bed, then a number of minor irritations combined with my natural propensity for aggravation left me in high dudgeon by the afternoon. Exhausted, fed up with the cold and snowy weather I went off to job #2, and after a wonderful rehearsal there I hunkered down in a practice room. I was working on a piece that I have performed publically, but reviewing a few of the trickiest pages it was like I’d never seen the notes before. So I sat there, fatigued and starving, and banged the notes out on the piano as I sang along. Played without singing. Sang. Checked the notes. Sang without playing. Checked again. Stood up. Sat down. Flopped back in the chair.
Suddenly I thought about people who have said to me “I wish I could sing like you.” This is a very high compliment and it is always flattering to hear. It is rarely seasoned with much envy, but I can always sense a little. Part of my musical accomplisments are natural blessing: my voice has a pleasant timbre and I have an ear that can hear tuning. If someone wants to be envious, that’s no different than that I envy people who are naturally slim or have good penmanship.
The reason that comment came to mind was because my heart had impulsively formed a response to these compliments that I barely remembered: “What would you be willing to sacrifice for it?”
A lamentable byproduct of our current cult of celebrity and reality entertainment is that we think that talent is purely innate. People are ‘discovered’ with talent and plucked from their untalented lives. Those who are gifted have had the magic wand waved over them, and living out their giftedness is easy.
Not so in real life. Becoming good at something is hard. It is easier the more natural gifts you have, but it takes grit and devotion and sacrifice. I can’t even really dig into what I have sacrificed to serve my gift, because it is too painful to think about. I’m not alone – we all make sacrifices for what we want, and each day of choosing our lives means grieving a million things we are not choosing by default. I wish everyone a passion in their heart that makes them willing to sacrifice, the discernment to find it and the determination to serve it.