Ever told your artistic friend they're 'wasting' their talent? Here's why that can hurt, not help.

I need good live music only a little less intensely than a caffeine aficionado needs their next shot of espresso.

And woe to the mortal who gets between me and my fix.

In fact, when I go to events with my friends, I usually have to remind myself that they’re also there to socialize, and it isn’t polite to hiss at them when they try to start a conversation with me. I haunt open mic nights semi-professionally, and I played as part of a duo in Florence, Italy, for more than a year while I lived there.


So it often surprises people when I say that I don’t want to pursue a life as a professional musician.

Although singing is one of the great joys of my life, I would never want to make a career out of it. I would get burned out in a matter of weeks, and performing would lose most of its magic for me.

So although performing live music has become an integral part of my life that I can’t imagine giving up, I’m perfectly content to jam out with a band once or twice a week and sing to myself while I do the dishes (or cook, or clean, or walk down the street, or wait in line at the Chinese place).

Creative expression doesn’t have to be serious to be fulfilling; it only has to bring you satisfaction.

Since we’re talking about musicians, my friend Derek is another good example. He went to one of the best art colleges for illustration in the US, but he’s chosen to pursue a career in music instead. At some point he realized that paid illustration work wasn’t satisfying because of the limitations that clients placed on him, but he found the gratification he was looking for in casual expression.

I often forget about his artistic background until I see him sketching, and I’m always blown away by his talent. And the thought always creeps up in the back of my mind: It’s such a shame he’s not using that talent more.

And I always have to remind myself that he is using it, just in the way that he wants to.

My judgmental, hypocritical ass just needs to take a chill pill and stay in my lane.

The musician that I know best, however, is my guitarist, Francesco. When I watch him work, it confirms everything I’ve come to believe about dedication. He lives and breathes music, not just for school or his various projects (like me), but for the sheer joy of it.

It drives him, the way that stories drive me. I have entire folders full of words that burned me up until I wrote them down. Does it bother me that almost no one is looking at them right now? Sure.

But that hasn’t stopped me, because that’s not why I do it. I write to quiet the ghosts in my head, and whether or not I publish another word won’t change that.

So what do you do when you find yourself with a talent that you don’t want to pursue?

Just let it make you happy. It never needs to be more complicated than that.

This story originally appeared on The Feed and is reprinted here with permission.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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