McGill University Acceptance and Looking Deeper Into The Process Of Planning

Well, it happened. I courted that McGill University, and courted her hard. I made small talk, I expressed my affections, and made my intentions clear. Then, with little more than a flirtatious email in return I flew back to her and laid bare my soul (via jazz clarinet audition) with the plea to Love Me!… er, … rather Accept Me!?

And like any noble University would do, she made me wait,… and wait. Delicately stringing me along with the odd hint of interest, slyly stoking the fires of my anticipation. Finally she gave in, and accepted me. But I had to be sure McGill knew what she was getting into: “You’ve made me ever so happy!” I told McGill University, “There’s just one thing though. I’m a good man with a pure heart, but alas, I am but a penniless contemporary jazz clarinetist.”

And, after much batting of eyelashes, McGill relented and offered me those two sweet, romantic words: financial,… support.

In the jubilant words of the Kool-aid Man …

“Oh, Yeaahh!!”

Somebody turn down the lights and turn up the Marvin Gaye and Let’s get it on!! I foresee a lasting, beautiful relationship here. … (Oh who are we kidding, I give it a couple years before I leave McGill broken hearted and weeping on the side of road.)

So,… what is it with this pit in my stomach? Why am I not giddy with the prospect of being financially assisted in Montreal for the next 2 years? Oh yeah, … because I haven’t really formulated a plan yet. Therefore, I don’t know if McGill is part of said plan.

Will a Master’s degree get me closer to my goals, or is it just an “attractive distractor?”

And so this segues nicely back into the topic of planning. Yes, this was my “planning week” but looking a little deeper into this subject I began to realize just how vast and important a subject it is. This needs way more than a week. I think I’m on to something big here people, … okay, I’m just going to say it … I believe honest and in-depth planning might just be the key to the artists struggle with direction and survival.

Whew! I just blew your mind there didn’t I? Well buckle up readers because your on a wild ride and I’m calling it the James Danderfer Guide To Battle Planning Against Artistic Stagnation and Wildly Confusing Career Trajectory. … Alright, that’s a bit of a mouthful. Perhaps just the J.D.G.B.P.A.A.S.W.C.C.T. for short.

Oh sure, I’ve done lots of “planning” in the past, but it’s never really involved more than a cursory jotting of notes in a moleskin notebook (“My 5 year plan in 60 words or less”). But that’s not really a plan at all, that’s just one notch better than day-dreaming! As I said to a fellow artiste the other day “There’s no set path whatsoever for our careers. It’s like looking at a blank canvass (actually, I said “a dark abyss” but in hindsight “blank canvass” would’ve sounded less depressing) and it’s up to you to paint to the whole picture as you want it, path, detours, goals and all.

Well, that calls for more than just a more than just some scribbled down career plans on the bottom of a Heineken beer coaster. More than a “Dear Diary, today I dreamt of a better life.” This is nothing less than a call to arms! … em, maybe a little less, but you get the idea. We have to write out a clear concise manual for ourselves. We have to be honest with what in our hearts we’d really like to attain with our artistic endeavours, no matter how “unrealistic” that may seem to be, and map out exactly how we can get there.

Now for those of you who’ve read up to this point and think I’m going a little cuckoo for the J.D.G.B.P.A.A.S.W.C.C.T., just read a few recent comments from some of my devoted readers:

Megan from Vancouver wrote “If a concept or goal only lives in your head then it’s journey often ends there. We make things real by communicating with those around us. When we communicate via the spoken or written words it forces us to be more concise about our ideas in order for others to understand them…and the clearer our goals are the more tangible they become.”

Dione from New York wrote: “…from my recent experience, planning is simply overrated, my dear friend. TOTALLY overrated! At least, this is how I feel about it right now.”… “If you asked me exactly last year (or maybe even in December) what I would be doing today, I would have had a very specific answer. Fortunately (in hindsight), this “answer” is completely irrelevant to me right now, and I am quite happy about that! Having goals and knowing what you want is one thing, but I find that all the detailed plans I had made have ended up being side-tracked or even abolished, often by other circumstances, opportunities and connections that I never would have imagined at the time I was cooking up said “plan”.

And this leads nicely to the J.D.G.B.P.A.A.S.W.C.C.T.

Lesson #1:

Your plan must be flexible because it will change, sometimes drastically. It’s guaranteed. But just because it will change, doesn’t make today’s plan of action any less valid! The plan you formulate will also have a great many constants in it that reflect your true needs and desires despite a changing landscape. When the plan needs to be updated, it is a conscious, deliberate change of direction. Your new direction is therefore made all the clearer and you will move down this path with increased awareness until, that is, when it’s time to adjust the plan again. In other words, as detailed and as organized as your plan should be, it’s important to look at it as a process that will change and develop with you.

Speaking for myself, I’m stupidly excited to see where these next installments of the J.D.G.B.P.A.A.S.W.C.C.T. will lead. Your email responses are appreciated as always.

See you next week!

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