This is the fundamental question of the ages. It reverberates throughout the halls of time. Especially into the future. Do I have what it takes? Am I a contender? Will people recognize my talent? Do I really have talent? Do I have enough?
These are important questions to answer, especially for creative people. Some might argue that even entertaining such questions with consistent intensity is part of the creative process. The answers come back with great uncertainty.
Some will try to scientifically minimize the emotional angst of such questions with simple, probing questions: what is it you are really after? How do you define success? How will you know when you find it? These are meant to help.
They don’t. Because isn’t that just it? We don’t know what it is we are really after. We are in the dark here. We have general direction and notions but ultimately success is sort of a dejavu experience: we only know it when it is happening.
We celebrate with wonder and awe those who lost themselves in their art or career. On the way up it was a sort of dream-catching explosion of excitement, passion, and career alignment. Eventually, though, it seems people bottomed or topped out.
But the contributions made to the world on the way up, when life happened too fast and almost accidentally new art forms were made was worth the ride. Did or could the love of whatever art form, show, pop phase, etc last or remain?
Could the stars of one era translate to the next? Or were they doomed to that one form, be it in fashion or not? That is where the forms ultimately are not the thing, or the essence. They are exterior. It is some chemistry inside us.
It must be inside. All the pioneering legends of any era, music, or art form found in that form something they completely identified with. The exterior form somehow reflected an interior reality for them. The rest is history. Explosion!
They chased down something in the midst of lots of other things falling apart. So much great art and music is made during war times, around tragedies, and personal mishaps. The real artist tends to be someone very accommodated with suffering.
Art becomes for them a form of therapy, recovery, finding life in the midst of its absence. So much so that the distractions of success almost seem irrelevant. Their work is almost impermeable to the normal strains of trend and market.
That is when art is at its purest. Certainly eventually economy comes into the discussion. Getting back to that original drive is essential for artist. Remembering what first drew us into a medium can continue to help us overcome its own success fear.