Many composers have told the stories of Orpheus, the lyre player who could make even the gods weep with his beautiful playing. The one most often told goes something like this: on their wedding day, a viper fatally bites his new wife Eurydice. Heartbroken, Orpheus goes to the underworld to bargain with Hades and Persephone, eventually convincing them to allow him to leave with her. She can leave on one condition: he cannot look back until both of them are out of the underworld. Orpheus agrees and he and Eurydice make the long trek out. However, in his anxiety, he looks behind him before she has left the underworld, forever losing her to death.
Many lessons can be pulled from this and Orpheus' other stories. The two important ones for musicians are 1) the need to trust our fellow musicians and our audiences and 2) to never look back. I've been thinking about this second one lately: so many times in life, we come to difficult decisions. Whether we should continue in music remains a constant choice, especially in the face of difficult job prospects, better opportunities elsewhere, and the requirements of family. Whatever we do, it seems the story of Orpheus warns us to never look back--own the decisions we make, musically and extra-musically. With less time spent on regrets, we can focus on shaping the present with the people who are here now.