#300; ‘Find what you love & let it kill you’

In April I read – and proceeded to highlight on social media until my friends and followers were sick of hearing from me – a piece in the Guardian by classical pianist James Rhodes. I also spent three days in a row, after reading it, listening to his concert Bach and surprising myself with how well I knew it all. I love music, that’s no secret, and I love writing, live for it really, and politics, I suppose I live for that, too. But there are obsessions in my life – things that I love that I have let fall by the wayside for far too long. Theater. Travel. Books. History. Language. Performing. Poetry. Coffee. Wine. Cooking. Crafts. Running. Dance. Graphic design. Dive bars. Concerts. Adventure.

Where have those things gone in my life? I’m working on it, getting out to see more plays and learn more about the local theater scene, checking out more djs and dive bars and dance halls and 80’s nights, reading more on my daily commute. They’re small things, but they’ve always been the fabric that make up who I am – more so than my education, my social calender, my relationships. This is the summer I re-claim them, and to start I’m excerpting Rhodes’ piece here as a bit of personal challenge to myself. I will heed his words (and Bukowski’s of course), I will find what I love, and I won’t stop even if it kills me.

300281-james-rhodes

Do the maths. We can function – sometimes quite brilliantly – on six hours’ sleep a night. Eight hours of work was more than good enough for centuries (oh the desperate irony that we actually work longer hours since the invention of the internet and smartphones). Four hours will amply cover picking the kids up, cleaning the flat, eating, washing and the various etceteras. We are left with six hours. 360 minutes to do whatever we want. Is what we want simply to numb out and give Simon Cowell even more money? To scroll through Twitter and Facebook looking for romance, bromance, cats, weather reports, obituaries and gossip? To get nostalgically, painfully drunk in a pub where you can’t even smoke?…

RhodesI didn’t play the piano for 10 years. A decade of slow death by greed working in the City, chasing something that never existed in the first place (security, self-worth, Don Draper albeit a few inches shorter and a few women fewer). And only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted and had been obsessed by since the age of seven – to be a concert pianist…

Charles Bukowski, hero of angsty teenagers the world over, instructs us to “find what you love and let it kill you“. Suicide by creativity is something perhaps to aspire to in an age where more people know Katie Price better than the Emperor concerto.

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