Children are born egocentric, unaware they are not the center of the universe. But part of growing up means becoming aware of your ego and widening the circle around it: learning to think of others and to put their needs first. It means considering the impact that your actions and words have on the rest of the world and doing what’s right because it’s the right thing to do.
But it also means realizing that being a “nice” person can be the most egocentric act of all. Why? Being a good person and doing good deeds can be very ego-gratifying and even addictive, as any saint could tell you. That’s why saints often call themselves miserable sinners – doing good things gives satisfaction which means there is the horrifying possibility that they do the right things for the wrong reason: self gratification. Now most of us are musicians, not saints, so some amount of job satisfaction is right and necessary. Therefore, if doing the right thing for the music, or trying to anyway, makes us feel good, then that’s surely okay. If we give a wonderful performance, fully concentrating on the music, and afterwards the applause encourages and gratifies us, that’s fine, too. Continue reading