"Whatever you love doing at six years old is what you will probably love doing when you are sixty..." or something like that.
I don't recall where or when, though it was recently, I heard some approximation of that quote but I do remember when I heard it a gong went off in my mind. At six or so years old my bed was a stage and I was its star. I conducted dance shows with my friend Tracy before of an audience of tombstones in the cemetery atop the hill near our house. I don't know if thought to myself, "I want to spend my life on the variety show stage" but my imaginary world was filled with fantasies of duets with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, comedy skits with Abbott and Costello, and I certainly loved making a spectacle of myself. I'm not yet sixty, but at forty-one I find myself on the stage for real but it took me nearly thirty years to step out from behind the curtain.
There have been so many times I have felt ill prepared for the endeavor I've chosen to take on (confession: it has only been in the past month that I have learned what upstage and downstage meant) and much of my learning has been trial and error. In the past several weeks I have found myself encountering and engaging with a broad spectrum of creative people, many of who are far younger than I, who have been working on their particular art for many years. I can't help but think about what would have happened if at some point between six years old and now I'd never stopped doing what I love to do?
I know that dwelling on "what ifs" and looking back to find "if onlys" are not productive modes of thought, and I do my best to keep focused on doing what I love NOW. I know that in my early twenties I didn't have a true understanding or appreciation for the payoff and value of practice and hard work. I might not have known the sorts of people who are a part of the troupe I perform with and who are very large reason for its success. There are so many unknowns that the question of "what if" can never be satisfactorily answered.
In the end, I am grateful to be doing something I love whatever stage of my life I may be in.