I recently went to a concert. Rod Laver arena was full and the crowd enthusiastic. Expectation was high as one of the select band of international music royalty was the headline act. But first came the warm-up.
He was an up-and-comer, as is usually the way. There was nothing amateurish about him musically and, on stage, he was pleasing to watch. Most important, though, was how his delight at being in the venue, in front of such a crowd and doing the thing he loved warmed our hearts. He fumbled the words at one stage and then confessed, with the broadest of grins, that his wife had just shown up in the audience, surprising him out of performance mode. We were drawn to his humanity, his excitement and the genuineness of his offering. He was a ‘newbie’, learning his craft and revelling in every minute.
And then the main show began. This guy’s presence was immense. He filled the stage, and the auditorium, and the crowd responded with the usual markers of desperate appreciation. This was an assured, confident, engaging, full bodied, magnificent performance by a well-oiled team of musicians and a very experienced practitioner. This was an artist who, in his own words, had been ‘doing this for thirty years’. He had earned his stripes by putting in the time, riding the ups and downs, honing his craft. Sure, there would have been talent there initially but without hard work it would have come to nothing.
I was reminded by this second singer that, to get somewhere we want to go, we have to be patient. We can’t expect to act at the highest level without doing the hard yards. It’s manifestly ridiculous to think that we can step into legendary, or any sort of, status without the years behind us, without the learning and feedback, encouragement and inevitable knocks.
But I was also reminded by the first performer that we can, indeed must, enjoy the journey. While putting in the work we can still passionately embrace what we do. Even if our eye is on a distant prize the small steps are important. More so, they are fun. The little things mustn’t be diminished by some perceived shadow cast by the end goal. Rather they should shine as lights down a nighttime runway, each as vital and as bright as the next.
Long-term and short-term work together. Each day you write or paint or work or read or learn is a jewel in itself as well as being a moment on the way to wherever.