The eternal task of song can never be finished in a single lifetime. That is the beauty and fascination of the art. Once you begin to phrase finely, you will feel more joy in the beautiful finish of a beautiful phrase than that caused by the loudest applause of an immense audience. The latter excites for a moment; the former endures forever.
Still, I also know that most people, including me, tend to applaud the wrong things: the showy, dramatic record-setting sprint rather than the years of dogged preparation or the unwavering grace displayed during a string of losses. Applause, then, never bore much relation to the reality of my life as an astronaut, which was not all about, or even mostly about, flying around in space.
I appeal to the contemptible speech made lately by Sir Robert Peel to an applauding House of Commons. 'Orders of merit,' said he, 'were the proper rewards of the military' (the desolators of the world in all ages). 'Men of science are better left to the applause of their own hearts. ' Most learned Legislator! Most liberal cotton-spinner! Was your title the proper reward of military prowess? Pity you hold not the dungeon-keys of an English Inquisition! Perhaps Science, like creeds, would flourish best under a little persecution.
Conscience is a judge in every man's breast, which none can cheat or corrupt, and perhaps the only incorrupt thing about him; yet, inflexible and honest as this judge is (however polluted the bench on which he sits), no man can, in my opinion, enjoy any applause which is not there adjudged to be his due.
I think most cartoonists are solitary, lonely kids who use their work as a way to try to connect with the world. If I had any other skills that were more performative - if I could have been a musician or an actor - I'm sure I would have pursued that instead in order to get that instant feedback and to hear applause.