The Three Stages

I love being able to perform and create.  It’s made my life happier and sadder than it would have been otherwise.  I’ve found it helpful to understand that shape of that life so that I know what I’m going through.


As a performer/creative person I have experienced and/or seen three different stages of being.  They tend to happen in a certain order, but it’s just as likely that someone may repeat a stage, or skip one.  Each has its positive aspects and its downsides.


Stage one is “I’m going somewhere.”  In this stage, a person considers everything they do to be a step on the ladder that is getting them where they are eventually “going to be.”  They may not like where they’re at or what they’re doing, but it’s okay because it’s a necessary step in the right direction.


The downside of this step is that it’s frustrating.  You’re always wondering when your ship is going to come in, or how long you’ll be here.  The upside is that it motivates you to keep going when things are tough, to keep improving, and not to lose faith.


Stage two is “I’m not going anywhere.”  At this point, a person has the realization that what they have been doing is no longer moving them forward.  They may still have a wish to be somewhere else, but they have a changed opinion about their prospects of getting there.


The downside of this stage is that it’s discouraging realizing you just might not be one of those people that’s going to make it to the top of whatever tower you saw from the ground.  On the other hand, this stage may be the crisis that foments a major decision either to seek a new dream or rethink the method of ascent.  Either decision may be the right one, depending on your assessment of what you really want.


Stage three is “I’m happy where I am.”  You may find yourself playing a Sunday jazz brunch instead of headlining with Sonny Rollins, and you may decide, “Well, I like this.  If this is all I get, I can live with being happy.”


Obviously there’s something to be said for having the wisdom to accept your lot in life.  For the rest of your life you can be happy with what you have, rather than unhappy with what you don’t have.  However, this kind of acceptance must be genuine to bring happiness, because if it’s just a story you tell yourself, the lie may manifest itself as misery that you may project onto other people.


Each stage has its time and its place, and it’s quite possible that someone could go through all three more than once.  None of them are bad and none of them are right.  What’s important is to know the stage you’re in and make decisions based on that viewpoint.


Where are you finding yourself?


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