It’s a common misconception that if you are committed to something, the whole world should know and recognize you accordingly.
If it were as simple as that, we would all have the accolades we feel we deserve. And let’s face it, most of us feel like we should be applauded for at least one thing in our lives.
Most people don’t give a hoot about what you are committed to or what you are trying to do with your life. They are too worried about their own failures and working on their own successes to be bothered with yours.
No one might ever recognize you. Ever.
But that doesn’t mean that what you are committed to isn’t worth you fighting for. Quite the opposite.
“TIME HAS A MAGICAL WAY OF TURNING COMMITMENT INTO DESTINY.”
Domenikos Theotokopoulos, better known as El Greco was a Greek painter, architect, and sculptor during the Spanish Renaissance. His life and his work were criticized because he was different. Oftentimes called “ridiculous.”
A lot of people avoided him because he had a propensity for criticizing Michelangelo’s art skills. Now, he is recognized as a painter who was ahead of his time and is said to be in a school of his own in the arts.
Another artist who was unknown in his lifetime was Vincent van Gogh. He painted 900 pictures and around 1100 drawings and sketches. Most of those 2000 works were not even discovered until after he died. Nobody even really knew his name when he died.
Today, he is a household name and his art is worth many hundreds of millions of dollars.
Possibly one of the most well-known unknown artists of our time is Jack “the King” Kirby. He helped create our beloved comic book heroes: Fantastic Four, X-Men, and the Avengers. He never received any money or recognition for his contributions before he died.
Since his death that has changed.
Twenty years after he died, Kirby’s estate insisted on getting him some much-deserved acknowledgment. They reached a deal with Marvel that ensures that “the King” gets credit for all of his creations.
His birthday, August 28th, is also being revered among comic book fans as a national day to celebrate.
Now-famous scientist, Gregor Mendel was not recognized for his work in genetics until three decades after his death. He did a pea experiment in the late 1850’s that pretty much defined the rules of heredity. He was called “crazy” and “irrational”.
Now, he is known as the founder of the modern science of genetics.
Alfred Wegener was also committed to science during his life. He focused his research on the continental drift stating that he believed the continents were slowly moving around the Earth.
Nobody believed him — so other scientists opted to do their own experiments. Only after his death did science credit him with the theory of the continental drift along with the theory of jet stream and the existence of tectonic plates.
There is an almost unending list of authors and playwrights who died before they gained fame for their works.
Some of the greats of all time include:
Franz Kafka who wrote The Metamorphosis, Amerika, and The Trial. He was so disgruntled by his own works that he burned most of them. It probably didn’t help that his father condemned his passion for literature at every turn.
It was miserable at every turn.
The only reason we have the works from Kafka that we do is because of Kafka’s lying friend who promised to burn the remaining works after he died, but published them instead.
Emily Dickinson was another writer, a poet, who entrusted her sister with the duty of burning her works upon her death. Having published less than a dozen poems in her lifetime, Dickinson wrote nearly 1,800. The poems that were published were highly edited taking away from her voice and her original style.
After she died, her sister put together a collection of poems to be published. Those poems are now taught around the country in middle school through college classrooms. Her work has been anthologized and there is a collection of her works and a dedication to her life at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.
The first author to write detective-fiction short stories and for honing the craft of mystery and misery in writing was Edgar Allan Poe.
He was spurned, despite his commitment to his craft.
Although he had some of his work published in his lifetime, he died a poor man. Alone. Wandering the streets in a rumored drunken stupor. Today, his words are celebrated all over the world.
A poet and a revolutionary, Henry David Thoreau, published only two books during his life. Both were considered “weird” and “obscure”. Today he is considered one of the most important American writers ever.
Herman Melville had a small amount of success early on in his life as well, but not enough to give him any sort of recognition.
After age 35, he was pretty much unknown and all of his books were out of print. He worked for 19 years as a customs inspector on the New York docks and when he died, his obituary listed him as “Henry” Melville.
Thirty years after his death, Melville’s works saw a revival after Raymond Weaver wrote Melville’s biography.
Melville’s Moby Dick is now considered a literary masterpiece.
Maybe two of the most distressing deaths of all the unknown writers of our time comes in the form of Stieg Larsson and Jonathan Larson. Though unrelated, both suffered similar fates. They both died before the release of their award-winning works.
Stieg Larsson wrote The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Stieg died a year before any of them were published and never got to enjoy the accolades due him.
Jonathan Larson wrote the beloved musical Rent. It won the Tony Award for best musical, best book, and best score. It also won the 1996 Pulitzer prize for drama.
Jonathan died the day before (you read that right, the DAY before) the preview of his first Broadway screenplay.
It can be depressing when you are committed to your craft, your art, your business and no else seems to notice.
“NOBODY OWES YOU ANY RECOGNITION FOR YOUR HARD WORK OR COMMITMENT. YOUR COMMITMENT IS NOT MEASURED BY OTHER PEOPLE’S RECOGNITION OF YOU.”
You have to choose to be committed because it’s in your blood. It’s who you are.
Nobody can force commitment on you. Nobody can gauge your commitment.
Commitment is your own journey.
It’s what you do right now. It’s not what you did yesterday or what you are planning on doing tomorrow. It’s what you are doing today. Right now. In this moment.
So what commitment are you shouting from the rooftops? More importantly, are you shouting anything?