A Dialogue on Mindset

A young, college-aged boy is strumming along on a guitar on the corner of an urban street, a seemingly frustrated look appearing on his face. An older man sits down next to him. He keeps quiet for a bit but then begins to speak.

“Are you having a problem, young man?”

The boy, rather annoyed with the man’s sudden intrusion, has the intention of getting him away as fast as possible. “No, I’m fine.”

He looks at the boy’s guitar. It’s worn from use. “I used to be a musician, you know.”

The boy stops playing. “Oh, really?”

“Sure did. For many years. You want to be a musician, too?”

The boy looked down at the guitar. He shook his head. “No, I decided… I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“And why is that?”

“Well, I’ve tried for awhile. I had a band I played with for about two years, but we never got anywhere. Our music never broke above 10 plays no matter what we did. I’m starting to think what my mom said makes more sense. Just give up on the music thing, use it as a hobby, and go get a real job, I guess.”

“Is music a hobby to you?”

“Well… no, I guess. I would rather it wouldn’t be. But I don’t think I have much of a choice here.”

“And what makes you think you don’t have a choice?”

“Because it’s not my call to make. There’s so many musicians out there, you know — and only a couple of listeners, and most people just listen to the top artists. If everyone’s just listening to other artists, then there’s pretty much no point to doing it.”

“And is that why you make music? So that other people will listen?”

The boy felt surprised by the man’s rather silly question. “I mean, why else would you make music?”

“You could make music because you enjoy making music.”

“Doesn’t really pay the bills, does it?”

“Do you need it to pay the bills?”

Now the boy was plain confused. “If I’m making music to make music, but I still have to work a job… well that’s just a hobby, isn’t it?”

“It’s a hobby if you just practice and never give. What I’m saying is that you keep publishing the music, same as you did before, but then still have a job that pays the bills.”

The boy vigorously shook his head. “I don’t have time for that.”

“Oh?”

“Yes, I definitely don’t have time for that. Come on — I’ll be studying for classes, having a part-time job, seeing my friends, and making music? I would love to, but something tells me there isn’t enough time in the day for that.” 

“Well, have you tried it before?”

The boy looked up. “Doing all that stuff? No, not really.”

“Then how do you know you don’t have time for it?”

“Well, I know how much time studying is. I know how much time work is. I know how much time making music is. All those combined, I can tell you it’s too long.”

“You know how long each three separately are. But how do you know the three combined is too much?”

At this point, the boy was beginning to lose his patience. “What’s the point you’re trying to get to, anyway?”

“When people have a passion for something, they make due. Things change when they go after their own happiness, but most people are too locked in to even try and see if it’s possible.”

The boy considered this. “Alright, alright. I’ll try it, after my finals. I’ll see if it works.”

The man looked at him skeptically. “If you don’t do it now, will you ever do it?”

“Oh, come on. I’m not going to try some experimental routine while I’ve got important things to handle.”

“Well, are things ever not important? What about the week afterwards, will you say you’re too tired to try it? Or that you have another obligation? When does it end?”

The boy shook his head. “You’re really pushing me on this, aren’t you?”

A car came up to the curve. The man got up. “I can tell you’re annoyed, so I’ll give you one last thing. Good it is to listen to the brain, and good it is to listen to the heart. But better to listen to both at once. People fall because they think that they conflict, that they cannot possibly live in coexistence. But you’d be surprised. Follow the heart, and let the brain open the path.”

The man left to go to the car. The boy watched the car drive off, then went back to strumming his guitar. 

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