A martial arts student approached his teacher with a question. “I’d like to improve my knowledge of the martial arts. In addition to learning from you, I’d like to study with another teacher in order to learn another style. What do you think of this idea?”
“The hunter who chases two rabbits,” answered the master, “catches neither one.”
Now, to truly understand this story, you have to first imagine what chasing two rabbits would actually entail. For starters, you would have to be in two places at once—unless, of course, the rabbits were tied to each other. So to even attempt to do this, you have to first run right, and then left; north, then south; east, then west. Never able to commit to any action fully—not exactly what one would call productive efforts.
It is for this reason I have always been a proponent of narrowing one's artistic focus to a single area. Like the martial arts student chasing the two rabbits, efforts in multiple directions seemed to negate each other. In economics, they call this opportunity costs—which is the value of what must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. In this case, the opportunity cost of trying to catch two rabbits is catching zero rabbits.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture of multi-tasking. Most can’t even walk down the street without talking on the phone or texting. Not only do we not smell the roses, we don’t even know that they exist.
As artists, we must eventually let the second rabbit of life go, and make an unwavering commitment to the one rabbit at hand—our work. It’s not easy. It goes against the grain of societal norm. But it’s only once we make the real commitment to our art, to our vision, to our music, that we find it’s depth, its real beauty, the pearl at the center of its oyster. And with hard work and dedication, we can also pave the way for others to see it, too.
If you have something you’re passionate about, stick to it. Jumping around from one thing to the next only slows down your growth.