Thursday, December 22, 2016

Satisfaction > Fun

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People have asked me what keeps me going.  23 years of taiko is one thing, but add to that being in a group that demands a lot of commitment, is often physically demanding, not doing this for a living, not being a solo artist...why do I keep coming back?

I may change my mind about this later on, but right now I feel like what keeps me coming back for more is satisfaction.  That is, putting in effort and seeing it be fruitful.  Maybe it's in teaching a new piece or imparting knowledge through a workshop or drill.  Maybe it's in practicing for a solo in an upcoming show on a new part or song.  Maybe it's working on something I need to improve and finding success.  Regardless of how or where I find it, it is satisfying to know I was able to do that thing, I did a thing well, and/or I got better at that thing I worked on.

Can it also be fun?  Sure, but seeking "fun" can lead to disappointment.  Some people naturally try to find something fun in every activity, but what if it's not to be found?  If you're not planning the practices or performances, what might be fun to you isn't in your control.  Maybe the next 30 minutes is on a drill that you really don't care much about.  Do you suffer for your lack of finding "fun"?  Does the group?  How much fun is "enough" for one practice or performance?

It's not like fun shouldn't be part of your training, of course not.  Training without fun makes for a toxic environment.  But "fun" is a short-term thing, whereas "satisfaction" is something best suited for the long-term.  I think that's an important distinction to make!  If you're working on a drill that's difficult for you, you might not find satisfaction in it if you don't feel that you improved.  But you might find it fun to do, which is better than neither satisfied nor having had fun.

I also don't feel like my group is responsible for me having fun.  Maybe I've had a really stressful week, so should the group cater to my mood for the week?  Probably not - for me, or for anyone else, because how is that fair to the other people?  However, if the group has planned for things that are fun throughout the year, that's great!  Also great if they've set up ways and opportunities for me (and others) to improve, because then I can look back and see where I've improved.  That's satisfying, at least for me.

Everyone has their own definition of what makes a practice fun, or what makes a practice satisfying.  But it's really good to realize what's important to you and in what sort of context.  If you had fun all year long, at every rehearsal, that's great!  But you might ask yourself, "was the year satisfying?"  If you feel like you were satisfied with what you did in 2016, that's probably even better!  Why?  Because it's much less likely you'll ask yourself, "yeah, but did I have fun?"

Or am I wrong?

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