In the Rush song “Dreamline”, there’s a lyric that always resonated with me:
We are only immortal for a limited time
Translation: You can only go so hard for so long. Eventually, you have to slow down.
I think about that line quite a bit, especially since I started writing books. What will be my legacy?
At a high level, I believe that we all have two choices:
There’s nothing inherently wrong with producing mediocre work. I’d argue that there are rafts of people and institutions that demand the same mind-set, employees, content, and processes. Many if not most people hate change. You have to make a living somehow, and that often means giving people what they want. If they want less than your best, then so be it.
That’s one philosophy.
Then there’s the “all or nothing” approach, perhaps best embodied by Howard Roark in Ayn Rand’s classic, The Fountainhead. That’s the approach that Rush and scores of other artists, writers, musicians, and actors have taken for years. I firmly put myself in that boat. I could name many creative types who do the same thing, including my friend Aaron Goldfarb.
Is this approach riskier? You bet.
Is it potentially more frustrating, especially when others don’t see the light? No doubt.
More rewarding and likely to leave you with a legacy of which you are proud?
Yes. And that’s why we do it.
What say you?