It’s not really work

March 4, 2012

If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me this question I’d be rich:

“How do you do it all?”

I guess I do balance a few things.  Composing, performing, teaching, raising two kids, marriage, and endurance sports.  It’s a lot, especially during heavy training weeks when I’m putting in 15+ hours swimming, biking, and running.

But the thing is that I don’t really view them as all that separate.  Endurance sports have so much in common with composing and performing contemporary classical music that whether I’m on the bike or behind the marimba or at the computer it’s all kind of the same head space.  Some of those connections are obvious, such as the discipline and organization involved with preparing for a big concert (or race), but what’s more interesting is the feeling one gets when one is pushing through walls and working on the frontiers of human existence.  In short, endurance sports and contemporary music are about managing suffering.  It’s quite Buddhist in a way.  I’ll write more about that later as that’s a longer discussion.

Secondly, though, I don’t really view any of this as “work.”  For most people work is drudgery.  It’s something one does just to make money.  Work is something to get over with so that one can go have margaritas with friends on a Friday night.

But for me, having margaritas with friends on a Friday night is something to get over with so that I can get back to doing what I love most: composing, practicing, performing, and teaching creative music.  And then going for a six-hour mountain bike ride!  After all that I like to play with my kids and talk with my amazing wife.  I’m not a misanthrope.  I love people (and enjoy the occasional drink with friends), but still my main commitment in life is first to my family, second to creative music, and third to endurance sports.

In the end, it’s really not that much to balance.  I don’t watch TV.  I don’t socialize much except as it intersects with my career.  I watch a movie every few weeks and read when I can.  But mostly I stay focused on what I love to do.  And if I love to do it then it isn’t work.  And besides all that, I’m just grateful that I’m employed in such a way that I can indulge my passions.  After traveling around the world a bit and seeing how hard it is for most people, I don’t take my opportunities for granted.

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