I have run into a mental trap about desire on the Buddhist path. I know desire is good if it is wholesome, ie say desire for enlightenment and etc. Yet what about a desire for the mastery of a skill such as being a musician or artist, and what about wanting in part that mastery for something as a career? The desire to make a enjoyable living seems ok but is it at odds especially if you want it because there is an aversion to other work that one finds disheartening and unfulfilling? Thank you.
I'd guide you toward the Hsin Hsin Ming on this:
The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for, or against, anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect, like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.
Now obviously, there are going to be some things that you enjoy more than others. Unless you're the Buddha himself, there's little chance that you will meet cleaning the toilet with the same mind that sits down for tea with your friends. But that's alright because your practice will be to meet both with the same mind. You're allowed to prioritize. It's the affirmation and rejection based on personal desire that's problematic. As the Hsin Hsin Ming later goes on to say, "just let things be in their own way". Greet sunny days and rainy days the same.
It ultimately comes down to priorities. And different people will have their own priorities. There're only 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, so there're only limited resources to be put into mastery of a certain thing. One who places enlightenment at the top of his list, will probably have to renounce lay life to fully dedicate all his time and energy into pursuing that goal. Similarly for other mundance disciplines like musician, artist, mathematician, engineer, etc. So if you want to do both: working towards enlightenment AND mastery of a certain trade, at least set the priority level as appropriate to your current situation so that you can allocate the appropriate amounts of time/effort for each goal. At the end of the day, unless you're already a fulltime monk, it'd be quite difficult to cultivate the Path as a lay person without a job, no shelter, no food, etc. So possessing a decent skillset at a certain trade to be able to make a living is also part of the suitable and necessary conditions to enable one to cultivate the Path.