This past week, I did something I haven't done in over 3 years. It was absolutely incredible, enlightening, and one of the best decisions I ever made.
I Took A Vacation!
Holden Beach, NC to be exact.
Now, I will admit, I am not a beach bum. I burn easily, I'm not the best swimmer in the world, and I generally don't like the hot sun coming down on me constantly. However, the beach in the morning, on the other hand, is awesome.
Every day this week, I have gone down to the beach early in the morning, while there aren't many people out, and just reflect on many things in my life. Sometimes I thought about how to get better at my career, sometimes I thought about things from my past, and I thought a lot about what I am feeling is good and not so good in my life. Then I came to a major breakthrough:
Greatness can be achieved in many different things, not just your career.
When I realized this, I knew that my trip to the beach was well worth it. I think things in my professional career are going well. I'm very fortunate that I make my living solely on performing and teaching music, not by cooking in a Kosher kitchen, screwing on mascara caps in a prototyping factory, or pureeing meals in a nursing home (all of which are jobs I have had in my life). I know I will continue to work hard at that aspect of my life, for several reasons:
So, why is it that you must solely focus on being great at one thing? Why not work on what you want to be better in your life.
Now, here comes the key part of all of this, and it's a wonderful phrase I learned from a mentor of mine, Bob Anderson, who is Executive Vice President of Operations and Manufacturing.
What are you willing to give up in order to get what you want?
Every decision that we make, there is something that we give up in that. For example, if one decides to only practice tuba in the higher register, you're going to give up some of your abilities that you have in the lower register. Understanding that aspect is crucial to decision making, that no matter what you decide in life, you are giving up some aspect of yourself in order to focus on the concept you think is so significant.
Lost in my chaotic life of performance, teaching, and all of the other things that I do is that there are certain aspects of my life that I feel are essential to my life that I have neglected. Now, by choosing to focusing on these essential items, it's going to cost me something. Having thought about it for many hours on the beach, I think that focusing on what things I wish were better in my life, while continuing to work hard at what I already work hard upon, will make me a stronger, better, and happier person than I am now.
So, as summertime approaches, and most of us will be taking significant vacations away from our lives as we know them, try to take time and think about these things:
Until next time, here's a sun-drenched picture of me in a new hat.
Andrew Smith currently serves as the Director of Athletic Bands at and Assistant Professor of Low Brass at Campbell University and is Principal Tuba of the Fayetteville Symphony. Andrew also maintains a low brass teaching studio in the Triangle region of North Carolina.