10 February 2008
“I’d rather be broke and fly to the moon.”
So, we were talking about having partners who are very creative and talented but seem to get stuck somewhere along the path to the dream. I got to thinking about it and realized that I too have found myself stuck on the path at times and started remembering the research and soul searching I did to see if I could find any answers. There are some things that we all seem to have in common.
First is that we have come from backgrounds of having people give us negative reinforcement about what we were capable of accomplishing. We were told that we could not do it. We were told to stop daydreaming and get with the program. We were told we were not good enough to compete with the myriad of true talent fighting for the same dream. We were told we needed to grow up, settle down and find a trade that would pay the bills. “Be responsible”, they said.
Second is that we followed that advice and ended up in “shadow jobs”. The shadow job is a job that pays the bills but is somehow related to or in the shadow of the dream. For me it was the bookstore. For others it has been a record store, a recording studio, composing scores for video games, an art supply store, an art gallery, a theatre stagehand, and even television production. These jobs in some ways keep us close to the dream and help us build a network of like mined people but they also in some ways keep us from getting where we want to go.
The shadow job can create a subconscious depression that builds very slowly and is sometimes not seen until it seems too overwhelming to get a handle on. There are little steps along the way that are indicators of something being wrong but they are easy to miss. We take them as acts of getting ourselves together. It could be that we decide we have been watching TV too much and not writing enough so we swear off television cold turkey and decide we are going to write every single day even if it produces nothing but crap. I’ve seen it happen with video gaming, gardening and even reading. Basically all this does is create the same starvation of life that a strict diet does for the body. We set up a counter productive environment by starving ourselves of something we enjoy to force ourselves to be productive. We seem to do this almost as a self-punishment for not having achieved our goals yet. It is a vicious cycle and seems to cause the more obvious bouts of depression we suffer.
Then one day we wake up and decide we hate our lives and that ALL of our decisions were wrong and we must completely drop our whole life and start all over again. We decide we are a disappointment to our friends and lovers and that our life is damaged. We decide that the support we have been receiving is actually more of a hindrance than help. We decide we are giving too much or they are taking too much but that either way we have lost ourselves due to our commitments to others. So we decide to change jobs; we change homes, we end relationships both romantic and platonic. We create havoc and chaos in our lives in order to be reborn a better, newer, stronger self.
All this really accomplishes is the creation of said havoc and chaos, the broken hearts and hurt feelings of those who care about us and it resets the alarm clock of life. We find new friends, we find new lovers and we start the whole process all over again. We set up new friendships and relationships that we will one day destroy because even though they were created in an effort to free ourselves they too will one day be condemned as the chains that tie and bind us. This is the creation of the larger vicious cycle in which all the smaller vicious cycles reside. This major cycle is the one that keeps us from traveling down the path of our chosen dream.
We have all been lucky enough to have people in our lives that accept and love us just the way we are. These people were drawn to us because of our creativity and quirks, not in spite of them. They are willing to give us support and love and want to be involved in our dream because they see the validity of it and believe in us, and the ideas that inspire us. It is our own mind that condemns us, not theirs. It is the way we see and think of ourselves that creates the unhealthy environment, not the way that they see us and think of us. It is our own depression and frustration with self for not getting motivated that keeps us mired in the bog but somehow we let them shoulder some of the responsibility and blame for keeping us from getting where we wanted to go.
If we want to get to the pot of gold we have to actually hike to the end of the rainbow. We can’t sit and plot maps all day and then be upset because we haven’t gotten the gold. Theorizing and planning are good but it takes action to cause reaction. We have to stop the destructive cyclonic activity of extremes and be more forgiving of ourselves. We all know we would feel better if we worked out more or practiced yoga more and worked at the creation of our craft more, but just as making the harsh decision to force ourselves into the gym two hours a day five days a week sets us up for failure, so does forcing ourselves into a tight schedule of creativity. Creativity does not work that way but it does require practice. Be active.
If you want to reinvent yourself, then buy a new wardrobe and cut your hair or change your name. If you want a change of scenery then take a vacation or paint your room and rearrange the furniture. If you feel oppressed and weighed down then get organized and de-clutter your creative space. If you feel stalled and uninspired then go participate in an activity outside of your normal routine. If you don’t like where you live then move your life instead of moving out of your life. I’d rather be broke and fly to the moon than watch anyone I love spend all their time drawing blueprints for a rocket that would never be built.