Three Paths Before Me!
Having started following the Eightfold Path, as you had suggested before, I found myself in a situation where my job at the time was going downhill. As things got worse I kept looking for a solution and found one in the knick of time.
My previous job had cut my hours to zero and my new job missed a week of pay on it, and as such I ran into financial troubles. Now leveling out I find myself seeking higher opportunities. The trick is trying to attain resources.
I have looked into college, but can never seem to find anyone willing to help me finish the application process, and something keeps me feeling like my place belongs in music and writing.
I want to follow my dreams, but they all point in 3 different direction. The Audio Arts, The Literary Arts, and the Robotic Arts.
If I follow the path of robotics and go to college, I risk having to leave my home and family for my career, but it assures my techno affinity is put to amazing use. I could invent an automail (see Full Metal Alchemist for more info on Automail), or even biomechanical muscle tissue to cure MS. But at what cost? I once wrote about a man who did such a thing and paid the ultimate price because his ideals were corrupted by the influence of money and power. If I become nothing more then a tool of war I will have created the very problem I have sworn to stop. And I could NEVER live with myself for it.
Taking the Path of Writing, there is a great deal of risk involved. If I never get published I missed out on going to school. Also if I became famous the pressure to write what sells may ultimately compromise my artistic standard and ultimately 'cost me my soul'. On the flip it would allow me to touch a great deal of people deeply with the wisdom I have accrued sing my plethora of traumatic experiences, and moments of loss and redemption. To teach others of the past is a great honor, which can be fulfilled in writing, and I have much to teach.
Alternatively, the life of a musician has always appealed to me. Letting sound convey emotion and feeling as well as belting my voice to appease many, has always given me joy. Easy enough to do since my fiancé writes music for an aspiring country music artist. Additionally, I would be free to do covers of old copyright-free music such as carols, patriotics, and more, but the risk of missing a shot to keep finances stable also presents its head as with the literary path. Not to mention the overhead cost of higher quality equipment would be a painful stigma to my progress.
Do I follow the safe path, and go to school, becoming a robotics technician and risk my soul to the greed and corruption of the commercial world? Do I take the path of teaching and wisdom, becoming a beacon of hope to those in need? Or do I share my soul through song and touch their hearts with the musing of my now fully recovered singing voice and soon to be repaired hands?
I am so conflicted with my choice papa bear. How am I to decide? This is such a massive decision. Do I know if the risk is right?
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There are a number of assumptions in your letter that I believe, once clarified, will help you with your decision.
First of all, it seems like you don’t think a college education is needed to be a writer or musician, or that it should not be pursued. Do you think that the only one of the three paths that you mention that requires an education is robotics? Not so. Oh, sure, there are people who have music and writing careers without going to college, but getting an education is always a wise choice.
Let’s paint a couple scenarios here. Say you go to college and take writing and English literature courses (which is what I did) and you get a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree. Then you go out into the world, writing and trying to publish. But, for one reason or another, you don’t get published or you don’t make enough money writing fiction or nonfiction. Well, in that case, you still have a college degree, or two, which is the first step toward getting a job. (Makes it MUCH easier than if you don’t have one). This is what happened to me. I got my B.A. in English (actually, I double majored in German) and started working on my fantasy novel. At that time, I worked in a factory for six months before getting a job at what was then a company called Gale Research. I worked there as an editor for ten years. Meanwhile, my novel was not getting published. I turned my English degree into a successful career in editing so that I could eat and have a place to live. Eventually, my book did get published (along with several nonfiction works), but I never made enough on my writing to make a living at it.
Same idea works with music. Do you know how many thousands of aspiring musicians, singers, and composers are out there? Most of them never make it big. They end up playing weddings and bar mitzvahs and getting crappy careers as insurance salesmen or waiters on the side. If you get a music degree, however, you could get a job as a teacher, a sound technician (works well with your interest in technology), a digital audio editor, an audio engineer, even a music therapist. There are many more options when you have a degree than when you don’t.
OK, so, say you don’t opt for either of these and instead go into robotics. Why do you believe there is such a high risk of your becoming a tool of the military or some corrupt business? That is not a matter of your profession, but, rather, of your own character. Do you feel you will easily be corrupted like that fellow your read about? Besides, why do you think you have to work for someone else at all? The world of robotic entrepreneurs is a growing and exciting field. There are many brilliant people in this country starting their own companies and making amazing contributions to the field. You could be one of them.
And even if you go into robotics, that doesn’t preclude the possibility of your continuing to write and perform music. Many great science fiction and other genre authors have degrees in engineering and other scientific fields (Isaac Asimov [Ph.D. in biochemistry], Arthur C. Clarke [degrees in math and physics], and L. Sprague de Camp [M.S. in engineering] spring to mind). Wouldn’t it be cool to work on advanced robotics and indulge your creative side by writing a science fiction story about robots or maybe writing a theme song to a sci-fi movie? Just a thought.
The lesson here is this: don’t limit yourself. You don’t have to walk just one path, you can walk all three, if you like. Look at me. I’m an editor, but I’m also a writer, an advice columnist, an amateur artist, and I’m thinking of possibly learning about solar power and selling solar energy systems to private homes. But, whatever you decide, you can never go wrong by furthering your education.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
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