Whatever You Do, Don't Lose the Joy

Recently two people I highly respect have been communicating quite the same message (see links at the bottom of the post). And that message is: Don't take things so seriously that you lose the joy. Do everything with lightness and take care of the joy you find in creativity.

It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.
— Aldous Huxley

Sometimes when we start to take things more seriously, the joy starts to seep out. All of a sudden we're putting ourselves under pressure to achieve certain outcomes. All of a sudden we don't want to be "amateurs". Why do we feel this way? Well it's usually for the simple reason that we feel the great IMPORTANCE of what we're doing, and we want to do it justice. This is a very real and legitimate feeling, regardless of whether you are doing paid creative work or taking up a hobby. We want to be proud of our creative output, we want it to be perfect the first time and every time after that. After all, why would we risk putting that little bit of ourselves out there in the world? Why would we risk that vulnerability?

But there's another way to look at this. Many people don't realise is that the word "amateur" means "lover" from the Latin amator. When this word came about, it was something to be proud of! You could be proud of the love and commitment you gave to a certain thing. It was about the LOVE of the activity, not the "expected objective quality of the output" of the activity. The negative loading of the word "amateurish" only seems to have come about to distinguish between those being paid for their work and those who aren't. As if monetary compensation for an activity is the paragon of achievement in your chosen field, and anything less is not worth trying for.

But it is. It is worth it. Be a proud AMATEUR. Be a lover of creativity; a lover of the joy that it gives you. And never let that go. After all, isn't that why you took this thing up in the first place? At the end of the day it's not even about you, or how "good" you are at any one thing. It's about the love.

I highly recommend reading Austin Kleon's enlightening post titled Don't Lose The Magic. And this piece of advice from the wonderful mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato.