Lesson 15: Artists will not be understood, but you only need a few to care anyway.
The dusty wooden floors echoed my steps as I reached the tall door leading to the back stage. The round doorknob reluctantly gave in and a loud bang followed with the door closing behind me. A sound of voice singing in Italian came from the hallway, undoubtedly someone practicing before their stage appearance, but in between the aria, a quiet sound of piano keys cut through. With lights off on the stage and the curtain tightly shut, I made out her silhouette at the grand piano she claims moves unrestrictedly while she plays. Dina snuck out to the back stage during intermission to feel the keys one more time and perhaps make friends with the moving piano. I whispered her name to not to startle her and came up to the piano. “I can’t see the keys,” she answered and went on with her Brahms. I pulled out my phone to create some light for her and we both quietly laughed not to be discovered.
That was at just one of my sister’s many piano recitals and the episode behind the stage curtains and in the dark, reminded me of the struggle of artists, people who need to invest thousands of hours of hard work behind the stage with no one listening, no one applauding, and maybe even no one to shine the light when it’s pitch black. If you’d ask my sister she’d tell you it’s all worth it, but she’d also share how lonely it is when not only do people around not understand the investment and hard work, but make it even harder by plainly stating of how fun and easy her college life must be. The life of self-employed people is very similar, but instead of proving myself to others, I’ve learned to not say much. The grass will always be greener on the neighbor’s lawn, and defending yourself only makes it worse for you.
At the end of the day, no matter what artistic journey you embark on, either building a business, or perfecting Rachmaninoff, there won’t always be an understanding audience around, or maybe no audience at all, but surrounding yourself with a few people who truly care and want your success, and learning to let go of the meaningless noise, is just the needed light to play your notes right.