"Do what you love"; A phrase in line with "follow your dream" and "don't stop believing". It's a cliché, a good but tricky one.
Here's a comparison: You wake up at 7 am, walk over to the bathroom and look in the mirror. You see a person with messy hair, thin half opened eyes, and makeup free; Simply normal. Then you wash your face, do your hair, put on makeup and dark pretty clothes. Now the mirror still shows you, but you're behind a facade. It's not necessarily bad, but worth acknowledging.
Similarly, it's not bad to tell someone "do what you love". It's suppose to be an expression of positivity. However, it is a sentence sounding like black and white. It sounds like something you can just do. 1 2 3 voila… Believing that doing what you love means loving all the time, would be the same as me thinking that your black suite, matching jewleries, new-washed hair, and clean teeth, is you all the time. But it's not. It takes a little bit of work to get ready in the morning. Likewise, it takes work to love what you love.... worth acknowledging.
For years I've been allergic to these words. I started music college. It came as no surprise to people, cause "music is what Eli does".
"OMG you're moving US, that's so amazing. You're really doing what you love".
It was meant as good wishes. But to me… SO MUCH PRESSURE. Really? Is this love? Well, I guess so. Since then I've tried and tried and tried to convince myself that this is love. Truth is, it probably is. The problem is that I've been thinking that if this is love I have to love it ALL the time.
I realize I could write a book on this topic. But I'll jump straight to the last chapter.
Doing what you love takes work. It takes practice. Most importantly, it takes reminders.
You have to be reminded that you love. Imagine you come home from work and your husband has forgotten that he was suppose to have the dinner ready for you. Probably, your first thought is not "I love you"…right? Then a few hours later you sink down in the sofa, he serves you a cup of tea before he let you lean into his arms… Ah, now you remember "I love him".
You could've started doubting yourself when you came home and the dinner was not ready. Maybe I don't love him? Have I chosen the wrong man? What am I doing with my life? And to be brutal, you could have ended the marriage right there. Or you could take a deep breath and accept it, because you know deep inside that there are moments when you are SURE. He is the one.
This is a simplistic version of a concept I'm trying to visualize for myself. Hope you're still with me.
You see… I had a show yesterday. I didn’t want to play at all. I had been sitting with my foot up the last week, after a surgery. I had had all time in the world to practice, but not energy nor motivation to do so. I didn't get much other things done either because I was so focused on "I should be practicing", which again made me feel even worse about the situation. I asked myself "Why do I do this? Is this meant for me? Is this the life I want to live?" In the moment, the answer was a clear NO. I felt, and have felt for a long time, that this is not what I love. The fact that other people tell me it is what I love, makes the pressure greater and my own disappointment bigger. Thus, my motivation for playing fades behind the façade of "I should love this".
Here comes the turnaround....
At 5 pm last evening, I decided to NOT cancel my show at 8 pm. I switched to a higher gear, and headed into the city to "share my stories and life with the audience".
Turns out to be one of my best shows. Not necessarily because of how I played and what I played (partly) but how I felt on stage. My only goal for the night was to get through it. I wonder if having that as a goal rather then playing all the notes correctly, saying the right thing, selling enough cd; if that made me more relaxed. I can not remember last time I had such a good time simply being on stage and sharing my stories. Me and Martin, who was on stage with me, had a great dialogue with the audience, it was focused, we joked, we was serious.
It truly felt like I was giving to the audience and audience giving to me. Yes, indeed like a dialogue. And THAT is when I do what I love.
There's a voice in the back of my head saying "but Eli, there are things you love more". Well, maybe. I don't know. What is love, anyhow?
You know, if I could do what I did last night as a living, I'd say yes please. But indeed it needs work and reminders. Yesterday was the best reminder. I can't thank the audience enough for being there with me in that moment. They don't know what I was going through that week and how much it meant for me that they listened. And probably I don't know what they were going through and what this concert meant for them.
Back to the beginning. "Do what you love" Yes, do it, but remember that it's okay to not love what you love all the time. Pay attention to when the love is strong and keep that as your target. Practice. Often. Remind yourself.
(here's a video from last night)