There is no motivation, there is only motivation

This actually isn’t a post about motivation. 

Back in college v1.0, I took a class on the subject.  It was a required course for my Psychology degree (which I eventually earned), along with research methods, statistics, linguistics and lots of other fun things that I would up doing absolutely nothing with.  (sidebar – don’t ever take a course in abnormal psychology, as you will be convinced that you have a host of disorders, just from looking at the list of symptoms.  Seriously, there was a point where I thought I had multiple personality disorder and/or pre-menstrual syndrome.) We talked about hunger, emotions, hunger, impulse, desire, hunger – it, like everything else in the world that is controversial or popular or human or fun, came back to sex and food. In the end, I remember taking tests and getting a pretty good grade and learning that no one – no one – knows what motivates anyone to do anything

It is a mystery to me how I get anything done. I am notorious at starting new projects to put off finishing old ones.  There was a classic exchange several years ago between my wife and I, when, with a deadline looming, she caught me grumbling (let’s see what happens…)

Wife: …what was that?

Me: What? oh…just fiddling with this new piece…

W: Of course you are.

pregnant pause

M: with righteous indignation Well, what the hell is THAT supposed to mean?

W: Nothing. 


…just, whatever you can do to not finish the string quartet.


As much as I try not to, I keep coming across inspirational horse hockey on the internets, along the lines of this, which crossed my path today. It’s kind of incessant. Friends post quotes intended to whip their asses, and the asses of those around them, acquaintances update the world on their progress toward this or that goal, and much real and digital ink is spilt examining the methods and motivations of people who have achieved a particular success, as well as endless discussion about wether they should have achieved said success or not, or even take aim in the first place.  Good for all of them.  

For me, artistic endeavors – or, really anything else that that is creative, or beneficial to one’s self in any way, including fiscal discipline, exercise regimens or higher education – are selfish and self-serving adventures that make very little headway in “changing the world,” “bringing beauty to people’s lives,” etc.  There’s no grander motivation in my writing. It’s just what I do.  It is my profession. 

This was going to be a post about a new piece that I’ve been working on since long before the move, when it was something to do to avoid the reality of packing (right?), and when, despite the best of my motivations (right??) I hadn’t really embraced composition as a profession.  I was a dilettante. I’m not going to talk about the piece -suffice to say that it’s coming along.  I’m not, as I planned, going to talk about the form, or the gestures, which are both reasons that the piece is important for me to write, and complete.  Why? Because the details of the craft, or the motivation to work out those details are not important in the long run. Also, it’s kind of like a magician revealing his tricks, though I’d think the magic thing is far more entertaining.


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