When I had to make a massive choice over whether or not to go back into teaching to earn the family crust, or to follow my dreams of becoming a professional artist, it was tough. In truth, (and after nearly 8 years at the chalkface I can say this) teaching in schools can be a seriously thankless job, where just about every child at some point either hates or disrespects you, parents blame you for their child's failings, and colleagues, (lovely as they are) are too stressed looking out for themselves to give much of a thought to anyone else. Did I really want to go back to all that, and not forgetting the soul destroying paperwork and targets. Not on your life, but it really was a serious choice, not a hang it all, let's just go for it, throw caution to the wind and see where it takes us chance. As it turned out a serious health crisis took the decision out of my hands. It wasn't something I was ready for and it wasn't something planned, it landed in my lap and I had to deal with it. Would I have waited?
"Life presents many choices,
the choices we make determine our future."
When I was younger, I was one of life's waiters. Waiting almost became a profession, and if you had ever challenged me to a game of chicken or last man standing, I would have won. I'm not being big-headed, I just would have been the one prepared to wait it out. Getting back to Hugh, it's true to say that if you wait, you miss out, and there is always someone else who will quite happily take the opportunity you pass on. It's a painful lesson and one that as an artist, we tend to face quite frequently. We are always full of doubt. How many of these can you tick off:
- My work's not good enough
- I'll go in for that one next year
- I've got too much going on
- I'll make a fool of myself
- I can't do it
- No-one will buy it
- No-one will come
- I don't have time
Who cares? Do it anyway. If you don't, later on you will become resentful and pained by the what could have been question. The only person who is missing out, is you, and great opportunities don't come your way every day. Things will go wrong along the way, they always do, but if you really want to do it, you will find a way. Take courage that nearly everyone else in this business is going through exactly the same doubts as you, they just hide it better.
It goes back to what I now choose to live by, Enjoy what you do, and do it. Why waste any more time, you never know what is around the corner, as 'Husband' always says to me, "put on the game face and go for it". What are you waiting for? Here's to now, and never being ready.
'Changes' is a great track used in a classic car add of the '80s, (you know, 'if everything in life was as reliable as a...). Hugh Laurie does a great jazz version here, so in case you needed any more convincing about making a big change and grabbing chances, have a listen.