The Never Ending Climb
Hiking is a cool thing. The idea that you will conquer a mountain of a certain size is enticing. You start at the bottom and slowly work your way up where you will undoubtedly be standing on top, looking at the world below with the sun on your face and a sense of accomplishment is a nice proposition. We humans are built with the drive to tackle obstacles and come out on the other side. Triumphant and accomplished, we leave challenges in the rear view mirror and this is what drives us.
This is what makes music and the life of a musician so tough. There is no mountain top. As good or accomplished as you think you are, you still have more mountain to climb. Mentally, this can be hard to comprehend and get over. We want to conquer our instrument. We want to master music and the process. We won't though, not truly. Ever.
The joy must come in the process. There's a dichotomy we must have in our thinking. We must wake up everyday and TRY to master and conquer music and then we must go to bed knowing we haven't succeeded but try again tomorrow. This is like hiking a mountain that never ends. What we must do is learn to enjoy the grueling, sweaty, steep hike. To stop and take in the environment halfway up the mountain rather than thinking about what the world will look like from the top.
When hiking or doing anything else difficult, we spend the majority of the time in the thick of the process. We spend much more time climbing than we do standing on top. This, I believe, is why so many people don't enjoy hiking or any other arduous process. We'd rather hop in the car and drive to the top of the mountain. I get it. I have that inclination as well. To achieve a goal with the least amount of work possible. To be a great musician or great anything, though, we have to learn to love the process.
There is no proverbial mountain top when it comes to music. There may be fleeting feelings of being there when we make a breakthrough or have a transcendent experience, but it will go away quickly when we think about the mountain of material there is left to learn, or get humbled by someone we respect. Don't let these experiences depress or deter you. Pick up your stuff and keep hiking. Enjoy the walk because it's the only thing we have.