Per ardua ad astra

I've now graduated from the Royal College of Music. I went to the graduation ceremony, walked across the stage wearing the gown and hood, listened to some speeches, picked up my certificate, raised a glass with my course-mates and chatted to all and sundry.

One of my fellow graduates asked me, "so, what will you be doing now that you've finished?" My answer to myself was simple: I haven't finished really.

To believe that you have reached your destination is to believe that you are established. I think that if you become established, you may rest on your laurels and the chances are that you will stagnate. I think the best way to avoid this, is to actively keep learning, keep moving and keep adapting.

I related my feelings via a strange analogy: the computer game 'the Sims'. Practically everyone in my generation played that game when it first came out, so it was a safe bet that it would be relate-able for most of us. Sure enough, she knew it well and had played it, and like me - had used the cheat codes which could provide your 'Sim' with a limitless budget.

Cheating seemed to negate the point of playing the game for any length of time. Why should you send your 'Sim' to work when the money they earnt was not helping you achieve anything? In short, it was only fun when you were operating on a small budget. It was more interesting if your 'Sim' had a job with a modest and gradual income than if a huge amount all arrived at once. The struggle of not knowing how you'd be able to afford to buy that seemingly all-important jukebox or swimming pool was the only reason for playing for any length of time. If you could build and adorn a great house that couldn't feasibly be improved upon - that was it really... Game Over. There is no point in carrying on!

Money is simply a tool, it is not a measure of success.

If you're doing something you love as a job, it doesn't feel like work. If you also happen to get paid for doing it, you can continue to subsidise doing it more often. I guess all it takes is a bit of strife: and strife is the basis of an interesting story anyway! If you sailed through life without any struggle, it wouldn't be exciting, it wouldn't be newsworthy, it wouldn't be interesting and it wouldn't be fulfilling for any length of time. Here's to striving!

Two days later I had a conversation with another musician, who asked me 'how does it feel to be out in the big wide world now you've finished college?', I replied saying 'no different really, in fact it's easier not having to worry about college'. He gave an approving wink.

Disclaimer: if/when I am poor, hungry and homeless: I reserve the right to deny-all-knowledge-of/withdraw/revise/delete this article, but for now - here's to striving.

Russell Gilmour
Russell Gilmour Blog
writing on music, photography, engraving, travel and life as a freelance professional musician.