It's sad to meet people from all walks of life who don't slay their inner dragons anymore - a painter who doesn't paint, a dancer who doesn't dance, a carpenter who gave up his woodworking because of change in situation.
Yes, we can no longer play 4 hours day when we are married and/or have other obligations but it doesn't mean we should be living only to fulfill expectations of others of how we should live. Some time should be left for our self-improvement (it's worth it even for 15 minutes a day).
Otherwise, we get seniors who watch TV all day long, we get depression, alcoholism, all kinds of addictions because of unrealized personal potential. Sometimes they even take the form of a physical illness.
Everyone is battling their inner dragons, even the kids who say that mommy should not be doing her thing, even our spouses - everyone (myself included). The problem is when we abuse their trust and live a life like we would have servants. The problem is when we develop our skills selfishly without enriching the lives of others.
A painting hidden in the attic is just a painting, not an art. But when a painting has the collision with another human being which changes something in both the giver and the receiver - that's art.
An organ playing hidden in a person's music room on some fancy state-of-the-art digital organ is not an art. But when you give this gift to others facing the fear that you might be misunderstood, that your playing isn't good enough but you feel that this gift will make someone's life more meaningful - that's art.
When you sit in your room alone and compose a piece - that's a composition. But when you feel your inner dragons saying to you that it's silly, that it's unoriginal, that you are not good enough and will never be, that your congregation will laugh at you and your boss (the priest or a pastor) will ask you to play something "beautiful" instead but you play it in your church anyway - that's art.
Painting, organ playing, or composition aren't worth very much. Art is worth a lot.
And art of course is not only an act of painting or music making - it's everything we do which connects us to others which helps us and them to become better human beings. We have no shortage of painters or organists or composers or carpenters or businessmen or plumbers. We have a shortage of artists.
The secret to all this is to realize what's your mission (calling/quest) is in life. For some - it's raising the family, for some - creating your own business, for others - painting or music. This then is the field in which we slay our inner dragons to create our art.
For some people this fight is going better than the others.
You know what's the saddest part? It's meeting people who say - "I can't practice for 4 hours anymore (I don't have time/I have a family to support/my health is bad/I can no longer do it at the professional level). So I shouldn't even do it for 15/30/45/60 minutes or whatever time I have". Or even worse - when a talented professional says "I don't want to share my art with others. I want to keep it to myself."
Every day that passes is already gone, tomorrow is uncertain. That leaves us only today: we slay our inner dragons one day at a time.
In this case, probably the process (slaying) is more important than the end result (dead dragon).
[HT to John]
Next: What's a bigger mistake?
Souvenir de Tycho Brahe, Op.100 by Johan Adam Krygell (1835-1915) who was a Danish organist and composer of the Romantic period.
He Who Would Valiant Be