As I was talking with a symphony veteran today, I perked up to something that he said. When I asked what keeps him going after so many years in the business, I could have heard, "I need the money, the medical benefits, the pension", etc. Instead he responded quickly, "I still love it. I'm still a kid in a toy store!"
That's the winning mindset. That's what has kept his quality playing pouring out year after year, and that shrinks obstacles. Perfecting his game hasn't come with a dampening of enthusiasm. We all claim that we love music, but soon find how easily our love for playing can grow old and cold. It's sort of like "for better or worse, in sickness and in health", and sadly, "for richer or poorer". Time and pressures test commitment.
You can tell when you're listening to a kid in the toy store. For that kid, it is art, not a job, a game, not a routine, fun, not work. The kid is still there in all of us. It's fun for everybody when that happens.