My point, right out the gate: I’d advise against being quick to call what other people do with their lives—their art or vocation—unimportant just because their work may be (or seem) unimportant to you.
My reason for posting this point at this particular time: while waiting in anticipation for the NFL Super Bowl, I heard someone enter a Super Bowl discussion and dismiss the biggest event in professional American football as something that didn’t matter, before the person went on to change the subject.
Oh, it wasn’t the first time I heard someone indicate that competitive sports, particularly of the professional variety, don’t matter. After all, games like football and all the rest are just that: mere games, right? Mere entertainment. And games aren’t important like ending wars and addressing famine and finding cures for diseases and…
But, may I ask, just how long have human beings been playing games? Why isn’t game playing just a passing fad instead of an enduring part of the human experience, century after century? Why do thousands and thousands of people from all over the globe gather to play games with each other every four years at the Olympics, while millions and millions of other people watch? Why do men and women dedicate their hearts, minds, bodies, years, their lives to the lifework of athletics and competition, both amateur and professional, giving us tangible pictures of strength, skill, agility, strategy, endurance, perseverance, passion, cooperation? Why, year after year, do people tune in to certain channels on certain days; spend their hard-earned finances; flock to particular parks, fields, rinks, arenas, and stadiums; round up their friends and families or gather with complete strangers at appointed times to witness athletic competition? For “mere” entertainment?
I daresay that the athletic experience, whether on the side of the athletes or the spectators, meets a human need, as, critical as they are, peace from wars and cures for diseases aren’t the only needs humans have. (Of course, many amateurs and professionals also use their platforms as athletes to advance all manner of other worthy causes, which would take another blog post to get into.) Sports might not be the “thing” that meets an intrinsic need in you personally, that gives you an experience worth savoring and remembering and that teaches you something about the rest of life (as sports do for countless people). Books might be your thing instead. Drawing or painting might be your thing. The ballet might be your thing.
But a novelist can’t look at an athlete and say, “Your lifework doesn’t matter,” as much of what novelists do through books, athletes do through sports. A dancer can’t look at a painter and say, “Your lifework doesn’t matter,” as much of what dancers do through dance, painters do through artwork. Filmmakers, comedians, musicians and composers, stage actors and playwrights, acrobats and circus performers, parents who amuse their infants and toddlers through Pat-a-Cake and Peekaboo and an untold number of impromptu games that have no name—I could go on to list how all kinds of people who provide others with entertainment are meeting a human need by doing so.
Hey. Even bloggers meet needs through writing interesting blogs.
So. Back to my point. I’d advise against being quick to call what other people do with their lives—their art or vocation—unimportant just because their work may be (or seem) unimportant to you. Chances are, the people you dismiss may be doing more for the world than you think they are.