I grew up in the South, and this included exposure to plenty of colorful colloquialisms. They’re really interesting, and sometimes I like to find out where these little sayings come from. For whatever reason, the other day I was wondering about the phrase “The proof is in the pudding.” From just a little research I found the wording is actually “The proof of the pudding,” which is short for The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It means that to really understand something you must experience it for yourself.
Our musical lives are very much like this proverbial pudding. The proof of the music is in the making. Too often we are afraid to put ourselves out on display for others to hear. We may have dreams of doing some interesting musical projects, but we leave it in the realm of dreaming. We never make the music we would like for fear that we will fail in the eyes of our critics—or (maybe worse) fail in our own eyes.
But what good is living a life in music if you don’t “live the life you’ve imagined,” as Thoreau put it? Making the music we really want to make comes with the possibility of failure, but great success is the reward for putting yourself out there, ignoring what is the norm, and making your music. That is, creating your art. Playing it safe is for those people who are happy with the office job, those who don’t believe they have it in them to create something people have never heard before. (Note: There is nothing wrong with working in an office. Everyone has a job to do.)
I struggle with these fears and moments of second-guessing like everyone else. But I hope that in the long run my desire to eat the pudding will outweigh my fear of not liking the taste of it.
If you feel the same, find your pudding and get to eating!