Have You the Fire?
A man lived in a small town. He played the violin. More than that, his passion was the violin. He played and practiced day and night. According to everyone in town who heard him play, he was a master – he was great!
One day, this man heard that a great virtuoso violinist would be giving a concert in the town’s concert hall. The man was excited. Not only would he get to see a living legend and one of his personal heroes play, but he would also take the opportunity to play for HIM after the concert. That way, he could get some valuable advice from the Master himself.
The concert came and the virtuoso performed. The music was spell-binding. The playing magnificent. Everyone who attended sat awestruck at the musical abilities of the Master.
After the concert, our young man went backstage, violin in hand. He approached the Master and said, “Maestro, would it be OK if I played for you so that you could let me know if I have what it takes to become a virtuoso such as you?”
The Master replied, “Please! I would love to hear you play.”
The young man tucked his violin underneath his chin and for five minutes he played with all of his heart and all of his soul. Those who heard this impromptu audition were amazed by the talent this young man possessed.
All the while the young man was playing, the Master merely sat with his eyes closed showing no signs of emotion.
When he was finished, our young man asked the Master, “Well? How was I?”
The Master replied, “You play excellently, but you haven’t got the fire.”
The young man nodded, said thank you, packed his violin in his case, and returned home. He proceeded to get for himself a respectable position in the local bank and worked his way to a position of responsibility. He married and had two children. He never played the violin again.
Ten years had passed since that fateful day and once again the Master returned to town to play a concert. Our young man went to see him and was once again rapt with awe at the Master’s playing. After the concert, the young man once again went backstage and approached the Master.
“Sir,” said our young man, “I played for you many years ago right here. Thank you for telling me I hadn’t the fire or I would have foolishly continued to dream about being a virtuoso rather than working on the life I now have. I owe you a lot.”
“Ah, yes,” replied the Master. “I remember you well. If you had continued, you could very well have been a virtuoso. You were an excellent player.”
The young man became angry at this point. He raised his voice and yelled at the Master, “WHAT! YOU told me that I didn’t have the FIRE! Because of that I quit! YOU heard me play. Why didn’t you tell me that I could have become a virtuoso? Why did you tell me that I didn’t have the fire?”
Calmly, the Master replied, “My dear boy, I tell every one who auditions for me that they don’t have the fire. If they truly do have the fire, then they disregard what I say and continue to play; if they don’t, then they quit and never play again.”
The young man was humbled and said nothing.
“You see,” continued the Master, “I was right. You didn’t have the fire. If you did and playing the violin was your passion and your love, then no matter what I had said or what anybody had said would have deterred you from playing.”
In the words of Winston Churchill:
“Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense”