Is it Worth it?

There are times when life events shake you to the core, interrupt life as you know it and make you question everything you’ve taken for granted and assumed as truth.

Recently I witnessed through social media a stunning process unfold for a former colleague and work associate. He was the picture of health, vitality, balance and success: the kind of guy who gets up every single day at 4:30 am to work out, travels the world teaching and doing what he loves, has a great family and is extremely successful.

It started when I went on Facebook and saw these posts asking for prayers for my colleague who was “undergoing a life threatening surgery.” I was stunned as this was completely out of the blue and no one was giving any information. 

I soon learned that he had survived the surgery and was in recovery and gradually information began to surface. Apparently he had gone to the ER complaining of stomache pain and hours later was going in for an open heart surgery and aorta replacement. The surgeon literally said that he was “one day from death”.

I am grateful to say that he is recovering well and openly sharing with others the depth and intensity of his stunning healing journey. 

Watching this from afar has truly shaken me and woken me up from a habit of life and unquestioned hustle.

You can hear a hundred clichés but when it gets to be that one degree of separation, one can really understand that life is indeed fleeting, it can’t be taken for granted and one’s not in control of how this all goes.

Perhaps it’s the whole being in my forties thing, but ever since seeing my colleague’s process I have been in this deep questioning of my life. I look around and see that my life is designed around what I love, what I am called to do and what is a MUST for me. But if I died tomorrow, will it have been worth it? And further more, will I have made a difference

Additionally, I recently had a long talk with a good friend who is a professional, touring musician and he was saying “what are we doing this for? Is my playing concerts really doing anything to solve the very real problems that are going on out there in the world?” I answered that this is a question that we all MUST be able to answer. We must be able to know that what we do has meaning and value and is worth something for ourselves and others.

As if on cue in response to that conversation, I saw a recent blog post from the wonderful Angela Beeching and she shared a quote from Brené Brown’s latest book ‘Braving the Wilderness’:

Art has the power to render sorrow beautiful, make loneliness a shared experience, and transform despair into hope. Only art can take the holler of a returning soldier and turn it into a shared experience. Music, like all art, gives pain and our most wrenching emotions voice, language, and form, so it can be recognized and shared. The magic of the high lonesome sound is the magic of all art: the ability to capture our pain and deliver us from it at the same time.

When we hear someone else sing about the jagged edges of heartache or the unspeakable nature of grief, we immediately know we’re not the only ones in pain. The transformative power of art is in this sharing. Without connection or collective engagement, what we hear is simply a caged song of sorrow and despair; we find no liberation in it. It’s the sharing of art that whispers, ‘You’re not alone.’”

There is no easy answer and no can answer these questions but onseself.

I am grateful for the discomfort, for the questions, for the uncertainty and contemplation. 

I will leave you with this video of a graduation speech by Oprah Winfrey.

She makes a beautiful point about what makes our lives have meaning and purpose. In a profession like the arts, where we can get so beaten down by the criticism, scarcity, fear, perfectionism and down right exhaustion, I’d love for you to consider this point from Oprah as a new way to measure your success.

May you know that you have worth and value, that you have made a difference and that you matter. And may your life have meaning and purpose. 

Thank you.

Dana FonteneauComment