Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Joy of Amateurism

Each day I get the Scrap Girls newsletter and the owner of the company (Ro) shares a story in the newsletters. I don't always read the newsletters, but today my friend Carrie encouraged me to read it. I thought it was fabulous and I wanted to share it on here.

Life Muses by Ro: The Joy of Amateurism

My music degree is a blessing and a curse. Because of my experience, I know how music “should” sound. As a result, I sometimes used to get so critical when I would play or sing that I didn’t enjoy the music. I say “used to” because something wonderful happened to me: I moved from the ranks of professionalism to amateurism.

When I started Scrap Girls, I sold most of my instruments to raise money for the company. As a result, I didn’t have access to a regular piano unless I was playing one at church. As a result, I didn’t play except on Sunday. I stopped singing except on Sunday. I was not able to play the violin at all because my violin was gone.

During these years, I made a mind shift. I became occupied with Scrap Girls and began to understand that it was unlikely that I would continue being a professional. When I finally bought another piano, I decided to be an amateur. Amateur, as defined by Webster, means “one who engages in an art, science, or sport for enjoyment rather than money.” Amateurs enjoy what they do because they like doing it. It makes them happy.

Unfortunately, our society sometimes looks down on amateurs. I believe this unhappy shift has happened because we now have ready access to professional-level music, art, and sports. Before radio and television, people usually had to create their own music and art. They had to engage in sports to enjoy games.I have noted that:

  • Plentiful access to professional level music, art, and sports leads us to believe that we must seek to be as good as professionals or we cannot get in on the fun.
  • Television shows, magazines, and newspaper critics tell us what we should or should not like. Since we anticipate criticism, we don’t try.
  • If we are not professionals, we might think we have failed.
  • We think it is a waste of time to simply have fun.
  • We remember failures or criticism too keenly and become afraid to repeat the experience.

My own doubtful feelings came from unfortunate experiences I had in my youth. Perhaps, some of these will sound familiar to you...

  • In seventh grade, I dropped the ball that caused our team to lose a championship game. I assumed that I am so bad at baseball that I should never play again.
  • When I was young, a music teacher suggested the dead composers that wrote the music would hate it if they heard me play their works. I began imagining them standing over my shoulders, clucking their disapproval. My worry prevented me from playing.
  • My seventh grade art teacher saw me drawing a flower. She said in a tone that suggested disgust, “You girls always draw flowers.” I started to believe that my drawings were terrible and that it was offensive if I drew.
Eventually, I shifted to the truth. I realized that I love music for music’s sake and it didn’t matter if anyone ever heard me play. I realized that drawing made me happy. I still don’t like baseball, but hey... I don’t have to enjoy everything.

I became an amateur.

I sometimes hear people worrying about if they are good enough to create digital scrapbook layouts. They worry about making mistakes. They worry their layouts will not be “good enough.”

I say that digital scrapbooking layouts are blessings to their creators and to those they love.

They are gifts of the heart. They are always “good enough.”

Amateurism = sheer joy. Let’s get some joy today.

- Ro

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10

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