Alas for those that never sing,
but die with all their music in them.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes -
It’s a great quote, isn’t it!
It’s funny how certain quotes can be inspirational to you at the right place and time. And this quote is one those pivotal ones for me.
Just like any teenager, I started out with a passion for writing music, but life and work got in the way and inevitably I had to start working in order to pay the rent. The dream was forgotten, or at least parked.
So, for 15 years I worked in IT, another rat in the rat race, trying to get up the corporate ladder. Until I discovered the quote above from Wendell Holmes.
It was then that I realized that my profession in IT wasn’t providing the creative outlet for writing or any type of art form that I so enjoyed in my youth. All of my creative thoughts were dying inside me to be replaced by the hum-drum procedures and norms of a corporate drone, enslaved to the comfort trap of modern commercialized life.
Around the same time, I read an article which pondered the question “how would you feel if you were told the work you have done today will be the same work you would do until the day you retire”. Think of it like Groundhog Day! This filled me with dread. If you’re going to be working on something, then it may as well be something you feel passionate about.
In a way, this is a wake-up call which made me realize you have to follow your heart and do creative work before it’s too late and before you find yourself retired and full of regret looking back on a working life which never made your heart sing.
So whether I apply the Oliver Wendell Holmes quote to music, writing fiction or imparting any other type of creative writing then it’s good to know that my creative thoughts will not be dying within me.
P.S. In fairness,the quote is actually a little bit longer and looks like this:-
“A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them!”
… but I prefer the short version.