Have we forgotten how to aspire? Have our problems, once merely sticky but now bordering on existential have scared us…
When I was growing up in Schenectady, New York, my mother would ask me to attend her symphony orchestra concerts. She played the flute. With the request, she would add, mockingly, “You need to get yourself some culcha.” I had no idea who or what she was mocking, but growing up in the 60s and 70s in my nearly all white suburb of Niskayuna (that’s right, Schenectady has suburbs) there was a sense that culture was kind of obsolete—nice, but unnecessary.
It seems to me that would be pretty unusual to judge yourself as the one in 1,000 artists who will be able to live on your work. What kind of person would believe that they could do that? (Incidentally, I don’t necessarily associate making a living off your art with being an artist.)
It reminds me of what we expect a lot of people to do. We look at people who come from tough circumstances—people who might be one in 100 or even 1000 if they embraced their education in the way we might like them to. But who would be that person? And that person who judges others who can’t find that kind of strength, you just want to ask them, “are you that person. Are you that exceptional? Where would you be by now if you were?”