I know it’s trendy to trash reality shows and swear we never waste our time on them, but I will admit to watching more than one episode of America’s Got Talent.
While I hate the way they draw out giving the results or how they make fun of the less than talented — especially when the less than talented think they are more than talented — overall I enjoy watching all the diverse gifts humankind have been given.
When a performer is asked what their particular talent means to them they almost always reply, “It means everything to me. It’s my life.” Understandably, when they are sent home they don’t always take the news well. It’s usually heartbreaking. They act as if losing the contest means having to give up singing, dancing or whatever it is that they do. It makes me wonder why we need our artistic pursuits witnessed and validated by money in order to pursue them.
With the money comes fame, and fame seldom brings happiness. Fame sets you up on a mountain so everyone can look up at you while they cheer. Just when you start enjoying the view and demanding a bowl of M & M’s with the green ones removed, the throng reaches up and smacks you right off the mountain never to be heard from again.
I love to sing. And not just in the shower. I take the time to learn the words to all kinds of songs and then belt them out while I do dishes, feed the sheep or drive to town. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket to save my soul, but I don’t let that stop me. I wouldn’t take my act on the road — or to a reality show — but I plan to keep on singing badly until I drop dead.
I make mosaic frames for mirrors with found objects, broken tile and paint. I love it. I stick everything on the frames from broken mug handles to coffee beans. Is this art? You bet. Would you be impressed if you saw them? I sincerely doubt it.
I also like painting. The feel of the brush in my hand while I move thick paint across the canvas is exhilarating. Sometimes I put on classical music and just get lost in the whole process. Would anyone want to buy my paintings? Good grief, no! They look like they were done by a two year old. But in the beginning I admit that is where my mind went. The first time I picked up a brush I thought — “I wonder if I could sell my art and make a living at this.” There’s this thing in me that whispers, “If it doesn’t make you any money then you shouldn’t be wasting your time at it.”
I don’t listen to those whispers anymore. I no longer believe that something that brings you joy can also be a waste of time. Joy turns into peace which snowballs into happiness. A happy person can’t help sharing their joy with everyone they come in contact with. Is there any greater achievement than bringing joy into other people’s lives? I don’t think so.
Even if you had genuine talent I wonder how much purer art would be if it was done simply for the enjoyment of the thing rather than for how it appealed to consumer’s wallets.
It seems like such a no brainer to try to make a living doing the things you’re passionate about, but it doesn’t always turn out to be a good thing. Say you loved gardening and the highlight of your year was visiting commercial greenhouses in the spring. It would be an easy step to envision running a greenhouse of your own as your dream job. However, if you actually did that you might find you were spending all your time working at the business of selling plants and no time in your own garden. You might be miserable.
If as an artist you were suddenly faced with having to churn out enough paintings to pay the bills it might start to feel like forced labour instead of a creative escape.
Do what you love simply because you love it, be careful what you wish for, enjoy the journey and don’t let the judges of the world steal your joy! And whatever happens, stay calm and share your bananas.
Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org