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sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong.

November 29, 2016

I’m not going to go over many examples of this right now. That would take quite awhile.

I’ll just give one example tonight.

Conventional wisdom says, “Follow  your heart, let your passion lead you,” and things like that.

But in my case, this has been wrong. I followed my heart for a very long time, or so I thought. My heart told me to become a rather good and accomplished guitarist.

I spent many years practicing.. lessons, classes, practicing on my own. I can still barely play. I felt like a failure because couldn’t play, and couldn’t do what my heart was telling me.

I finally was able to accept that yes, I can have a guitar, and make some noises on it occasionally, but I’m never going to be great at it, and my heart for so many years was simply very very wrong.

Passion and talent do not always line up.

Here’s a great movie that focuses on this theme. It is in Spanish, and is called “Rudo Y Cursi.” (Two brothers.. “Rude and Corny”.. corny as in silly, as far as I understand the word). You might not be able to tell this by watching the trailer that the film is about passion vs. talent. I’m posting the trailer so you can decide whether or not to watch the film.


So, why am I writing about this tonight?

I’ve been feeling really down, because I’m over 40, and have never been able to figure out what to do with my life. My heart has never matched up with whatever it is I should be doing, or so I’ve felt.

These days, the only things I usually feel like doing are watching TV and movies, playing video games, reading novels and occasionally picking up one of the musical instruments I own, but cannot play well. I need to be more productive.

As I was thinking about this just now, I came up with a thought that is completely backwards from the conventional wisdom:

One can find something one likes at least a little bit, and do that. Eventually one will (or at least could) feel better and better about what one is doing.

I remember reading about the bass player from a crazy band called System of a Down. The bass player, Shavo Odadjian, said that he really wanted to be a guitar player. But, the band already had a guy who was better. Shavo was offered the job of playing bass. He wasn’t too keen on the idea, but eventually really came to love playing bass.

The next thought I had was.. “write.”

So I’m writing about conventional wisdom sometimes being wrong. And I’m thinking writing could be the, or one of the activities that I should devote myself to.

Here’s the trouble with my idea.. what to choose.. if you are like me, there are several things you are somewhat good at, and sort of like to do. How to pick one?

Is it necessary to pick just one thing? Well, if the right thing is chosen, the more time a person spends doing it, the better at it the person gets.

But, it might be necessary to pick more than one thing to start out with.

The other difficulty is staying committed while one’s heart is not in the activity, and trying not to worry if one’s heart will ever be in that activity, or building up that skill, etc. This can be really tough.

No one wants to put their ladder up against the wrong wall. Climbing up a ladder can take an awful lot of time and effort. Also, sometimes one cannot tell one has been climbing the wrong wall until one gets to the top of it.

I’m not nearly as young as I was when I was wandering through college trying to figure out what to do. I get worried, because I have less time now to live, and want to make the right choice.

This can become a case of analysis paralysis. Thinking about so many things, being overwhelmed, and doing nothing… avoiding making a choice, and therefore, not improving at anything.

Since I’m not sure what to do, I will put effort into several things. Eventually, hopefully, my heart will identify one thing as the right thing.. either that, or it will be ok to be committed to several things.

Or, maybe, I have to choose something practical, which is also hard to do. It’s possible (thought I hope this doesn’t happen) that my heart might never be in any activity or pursuit of any skill.

I’m not sure. But I do know that in my case, the conventional wisdom regarding following one’s heart, one’s passion, is wrong.

What about you, and your life? Are you doing something your heart is into? Are you following your passion?

Or did your passion not line up with your talent, and you had to get practical?

I’d like to know, even if what works for you might not work for me.


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