Updated: Aug 28, 2020
In 2013 Ze Frank and Hank Green made a video titled On Mattering where Hank talks about his changing desire to impact the world and other people. His insights are interesting to musicians and artists due to his success and following as a culture icon, musician, and entrepreneur.
He asks, is the desire to influence the world in a significant way innate?
Significance to a world with close to 8 billion people is close to impossible.
In light of this nigh-impossibility, ‘what do you do if you are never going to matter’.
As a musician in a city full of musicians, finding meaning can be difficult. Some days I think of the hundreds of people in my area who could (and often do) perform instead of me.
I think, if I’m not contributing meaningfully, what is the point of this struggle?
Often, I think without changing something in the world, what I do is meaningless.
The Chapman brothers family portrait series:
One day you will no longer be loved (that it should come to this) illustrates the inner need to matter horrifyingly well by painting on abandoned family portraits.
This series resonates all too well with the terror of being left behind while the world moves on without you.
But what does it mean to matter to the world?
Without people, the world doesn’t care if you’re the best artist. Similarly, the being cleverest architect, or greatest cellist would be meaningless.
Is the answer then to impress lots of people with your talent?
Although tremendous ability seems to matter to the world, the individuals often seem just as unsatisfied as everyone else.
Both Hank and the Chapman brothers arrived at a different point.
‘You’re not trying to matter to the world you’re trying to matter to people.’
‘Matter to the people who matter to you.’
Whether it’s your spouse, your kids, your dog, your community, or your colleagues, real significance in the world is person-to-person (or person-to-dog).
As a musician, my goal isn’t to impress anyone, nor is it to make inordinate amounts of cash from unsuspecting concert-goers; my goal is to move people.
I know that, sometimes, I change their minds and hearts.
In those moments, I matter.
Link to Ze Frank’s On Mattering Video:
Link to image source on Chapman brothers' website: