I am IN THE ZONE. I am in the FLOW of decluttering and minimising and making spaces. I am feeling the gathering of energies and the potential to direct all that towards something important...
But I have to stop and let it fizzle out a bit (reminiscent of how I had to stop the art-making and let the momentum fizzle out a lot) because I have to resume work on the dayjob by tomorrow, which, as you know by now, resides in an entirely different zone that is at odds with everything my life wishes to stand for. I have a report that needs to be done by Wednesday, and so I only have Monday and Tuesday to get it all wrapped up and out of the to-do list.
It is actually a holiday tomorrow but nevertheless I must do the work. In the process I must drop the thrumming reins of redefining the foundations of my life, my life lines, and attend to the thing with the deadline. Always deadlines. Dead lines. Someday, and sooner I hope than later, I will cease being led by dead lines.
Hence aptly named a commercial break. I take a break for commercial purposes, for the making of money. Cut the main show at awkward points to insert a paid portion with a jarring jingle. Prolong the telling of the story with numerous interruptions. Disrupt. Distract. Break in. Do you know that these very words show up in advertising strategy documents? They mean it. They intend it. They often win.
I have this mental ball of energy, like a yarn woven and gathered, growing bigger from the space-clearing I have been doing for the past two days. Stagnant stuck energies reawakened from unused forgotten corners and containers. But now the ball is growing and glowing. Like a comet itching to hurtle across the sky. Energies repurposed and redirected. A ball of potential.
But wait. Sorry, I need to work. Always, always, this constant breaking. My heart breaks.
I will try to be strong and positive. Think of the money. I get it. I get how the money is the means. My issue is with how I earn it. How I have to be someone I'm not. How I have to be someone I don't like very much. Most won't, don't, get it. Like I am ungrateful and ungracious. I know. It tears me. It breaks me. It chokes me.
I endure. I do what I can. I do what I should. I do what is responsible.
Meanwhile I dream, I dream, of a house in the woods by a lake or a sea.
Two things, actually. One thing is the dayjob. I have two projects in progress, and two proposals awaiting decisions. The other thing is my mad urgent plunge into minimalism. By the layers of epiphanies I have been experiencing I would say that this move has been ripe and ready for a while. I suspect I was just too lost in the visible and invisible clutter to see it.
For the past two to three years I have frequently mentioned about how I have distilled and simplified my life as I focused more into art-making and less on the usual expected pursuits of a modern woman. But while I started out well, I barely scratched the surface of what it really meant to simplify and to minimalise my life down to the essentials. Before, it was driven mainly by need. I needed to reduce my expenses (and sell stuff) so I can extend the period of not having to take on a dayjob project. But now it is more of an integration with my life values. Before it was partly a sacrifice, and I had thought about regaining what I had given up. Now it is about digging through the core of myself and my life, and realigning everything according to what is really important for me and what I want to become. Now it is about keeping my life light, clear, and designed to complement and support the creative life I am nurturing.
Unlike most people who tell a story about minimalism, I am not coming from a position of plenty and explicit excess. I am in fact, coming from a position of relative poverty. The house rent is two months late, the utility bills had to be paid with cash loans. There is money coming in though, enough to catch up with all the payables and still have leftover to let me breathe easy until about November. But my point is, instead of clinging to my possessions in the midst of all the lack, I am re-evaluating them to see if perhaps this lifestyle with its unique set of life accessories and requirements, is in fact one of the things that is keeping me from moving ahead and forward. That perhaps this daily environment is sending the wrong signals to my brain's subconscious, and weighing down my efforts to improve the circumstances.
My mood and disposition are dependent on the lifestyle I am clinging to. Negative energies slow me down and cloud my judgment. Resentment, envy, jealousy -- these are all about not having something. They are about seeing emptiness as a bad thing, as a lack, as missing-ness. They are about not having or being enough. Impatience builds up. Helplessness follows.
I cannot remember now exactly how I turned around. A post somewhere, a trail followed. But I was given a lifeline. And instead of worrying how to refill the emptied spaces I wanted to create empty spaces.
Key is reading the book Everything That Remains by The Minimalists. I translated its first-world context into my third-world reality, and I was on my way.
Minimalising my life is my roundabout road towards getting back into my studio. Right now the studio exists in a different plane of existence. It is dismantled here, but alive elsewhere. I put it away but it also hid itself. And I will only find it again, and be able to enter it, if the paths are clear. And by clear I mean all the traps have been sprung, all the obstacles removed, all that is locked unlocked, all the trick questions answered, all the passages paid for, all the secret passwords spoken, all that is angry appeased, all that is in sorrow comforted. And all these can be done when there are no distractions or disguises. When the room is empty and there is only the elephant in it.
Most people stop at possessions when decluttering or minimalising. Often it begins and ends in the clothes closet where the most obvious accumulation of un-necessities is apparent. I started in my closet and halved it (and I did not have much to begin with). But I didn't stop there. I have gone as far as distilling my precious books, which I thought I would never subtract from again after a previous experience of culling that left me with many regrets. I know so much better now. I will dive through my digital clutter. I will reevaluate all my relationships and the people in my life. I will be more conscious of the experiences I will invest my time and money on.
The process is still on-going. I have set up a secondhand shop here on the website to sell or barter some books, gadgets, and other objects. In the house there is a brewing garage sale of clothes and pieces of furniture.
My expectations from the whole exercise are this: that I would gain a breakthrough (in ideas) into how I can integrate the work I need to do for money and my art-making; that I will gain better insights into how I can truly transition my dayjob into one that is more in accordance with my life values; that I will have a clearer view of what I need to do in order to regain the momentum of my creative journey.
I will post a tally of sorts on how much I have distilled my life when I am done. As of now I have halved my closet, disposed of all stored just-in-case clothes and only kept three types of cold-weather jackets and a couple of summer swimsuits. I halved my bags and shoes. I moved a big pile of books into the to-sell stack, and in the process I freed up two shelves -- one to be sold, the other to be reclaimed by my sister for her own use. It was seeing the piles of to-go stuff that made me think of setting up the secondhand shop.
I'll end this post with my recommended books that are helping me through right now.
I have a confession to make.
From Monday to Wednesday this week I was in limbo. I "drugged" myself into numbness as I designed dayjob project proposals and waited for responses, poised at the ready to execute the necessary tasks as required, grim and gritting my teeth to pull the money in. My "drugs" were iFlix (It's the local Netflix at less than half the price, and I finally got around to watching Prison Break, I'm on Season 2) and Farmville 2 (Level 27). I pushed myself to a numb state where concerns have been reduced to whether Scofield will get thwarted again, or whether I'll be able to complete a farm quest. I did not write, I did not read. I took myself to a place where I simply floated and coated myself with indifference so that when any dayjob requirement comes in I am "ready" for it and I'll just do it with as little qualm and squirm as possible. In the floating limbo space there is very little pain, very little regret, very little desire. There is only function and per-piece-purpose.
It worked, actually. I was pretty efficient with the dayjob stuff. I did not cringe when I pencilled in potential schedules in my calendar that blocked whole days. Those days are empty, nothing's being displaced, is what I keep telling myself. Think of the money coming in. Think of the bills to be paid, the debts to be settled.
I posted sporadically in my social media. I scanned my newsfeed for clues of escape. I thought a lot about my dayjob work, like poking at a wound, trying to feel if I feel like going back to employment yet when the chance presents itself (head says yes, heart says no).
Then a trail.
First that Brainpickings article on the commencement speech by Teresita Fernandez:
“Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth… will also become the raw material for the art you make.”
Then a post by someone who reacted strongly against a commercial by Toyota that endangered dogs in rivers. It jolted me from my stupor and reminded me through the haze why I wanted out of the work that helped corporations profit from the mass destruction of natural resources and the promotion of consumerism. The question rose again : how do I begin easing out, doing less, and really begin to live closer to my own values? How will I shift the flow of money and energies? I felt a spasm of an urge to make some kind of change as I planted corn and tomatoes. The fog was being pierced through, though I am still shrouded in the safety of sleepwalking through the days.
In the Fernandez article, Thoreau was mentioned, and it led me into a series of links that landed me into the page of The Minimalists who have been described as being like "Thoreau with wi-fi" which is an exact perfect description of the creative life I want to build for myself. Their page led me to other links and eventually reminded me to re-read Marie Kondo's book on tidying-up. I also downloaded book samples by The Minimalists into my Kindle and gleaned a lot from the teasers that I was able to access.
Before this there was a post by another friend in a grumpy mood who asked how exactly do full-time travel bloggers make money and are able to live such an ideal traveler's life without having to work like regular people. Someone posted two articles in the comments. I read the articles and realised that I was already halfway what those travelers have done. Substituting "making art" for "travel", the principles are essentially the same, and at the core and beginning of it is the most crucial step: minimalise your life, strip it down to the essentials. I have been on the right track, I just have to clean it up some more, and strengthen the foundations of the life I want to live.
Of the two articles, one resonated more strongly (I suspect it's because this writer sounded more introvert and the other sounded more extrovert.).
Passages that jumped out at me (and validated most of my past steps) were:
From the other article this was what I highlighted:
I HAVE minimalised my life in a significant way since 2012, but I have not completed it yet. I have to rethink the reasons and correct the motivations for some of the decisions I've made relating to it. I must align it all to the values of the creative life I want to set. I looked around the house and saw so much more to be rid of, things I could turn into cash, buy me some more time or pay off debts to pay off the time I need to work for those debts (incurred before enlightenment).
I need to have something to do aside from doing the dayjob to make the money. So this might be something to while away the time instead of just farming and cheering prisoners to escape. I can't make art while the money thing looms like a curse, and while I am in my dayjob mode. But maybe "perfecting" my tidying-up and fully embracing minimalism in my lifestyle will help the energies along to move in the direction I want them to.
The main things I took away from the initial dive into the articles were these:
It all ties up nicely, I think. A reassessment of my life possessions linked to my priorities and my need for money. Hopeful that it will lead to less need and better use for money. It's a better-thought-out way of investing in the life I want to have.
(There is, of course, the other reality that a huge chunk of the money I need to make is to support three other people. My other hope is that my inspiration will be theirs and there can be a better allocation of resources instead of the current defaults.)
I end this post with the pile of books I have pulled from my shelves to read/re-read and to integrate into a map for myself.
I have been channeling my creative energies to finding solutions and the perfect equation for my life's Golden Mean.
It is a good exercise that my two pages, Quests for Meaning (the dayjob page) and Ink & Water (the artist page) are able to define clear paths and differentiations from each other. While the creative instinct spills over the dayjob thinking, it is still translated into a distinct "functional" form but remains useful and a point of strength. I am pleased that the dayjob is beginning to find its own defining images and trains of thought that are actually interesting and engaging. I am also beginning to discover the potential connecting pathways between work and my dreamed-of way of life, possibilities of synchronising my work values and acts with my life values. It is going to be a very long task, because the way the world is built right now is contrary to almost everything I believe in or hope for. I have to be a seed of change, and that is always a risky thing to be.
This morning I was made to feel that my cause and crusade for a creative life and my hopes for changing the heart of the world through hope and art's inspiration are less worthy of support or less sensible to ask help for than something so obviously important, like a religious pilgrimage, for instance.
Anyway, I made myself get past that because I don't need the extra layer of discouragement and disbelief.
A client called this afternoon and there just might be a dayjob project that saves the month. I'll find out by early next week. Hence I put off my original plan of declaring Friday afternoon as the beginning of the weekend, and instead I worked single-mindedly on getting the proposal sent out within the day. As soon as I sent that proposal out, another client query came in and that's what I will be working on next Monday (there goes my no-Monday-work rule) so I can send out the proposal on Tuesday. This second one is a bid, I think. There are two other agencies sending in their proposals. Instead of being fired up to win, my response to bids is to relax because in my mind I don't participate in the contest. I just make the best proposal I can without consideration of whether the others might be giving discounts or throwing in extras. I stick to how I do things and let that stand. If I am meant to do it, it will be given to me.
Things are slow on the dayjob front. I've pushed it away so much that it's taking time to come back now. Like an overfrozen lake still skateable in the second half of spring that is almost touching summer. I have one sure dayjob project waiting for a schedule that keeps getting pushed later because the materials I will need for the study are still being worked upon (which means I don't have the signed approvals yet, and which means I can't charge for downpayment yet). I submitted a proposal for another dayjob project that was at first claiming to be so urgent I needed to send costs on the same day, but it is now silent without response when I sent back a list of questions clarifying a lot of missing points in the project brief. Yesterday in the late afternoon and early evening I was told I will be sent requests for proposal and cost quotations for two dayjob projects today, one for reference, the other for something that might finally run in time for me to be able to actually charge a fee and get around to paying the bills.
My feelings are generally on numb and neutral, which is a safe state because it means I can do what needs to be done without either pain or longing for something else. (Nothing overt, at least, all underground, easily ignored.)
Yet even so, it turns out that things are not instantaneously improved by my decision to cut off art and focus on dayjob. Well, the intention did open up the queries that I would usually have evaded or outright turned down (because I would rather paint and make the piece that would make my art finally gain solid foothold and start earning decent income). The timings have yet to regain their synchronicity with the need. But I believe the old charms are still in place. Just need some shaking and stirring. (I wonder how I can transfer those charms to the art work instead.)
Last night my dreams were filled with the kind of abstract office work scenario which is a lump of frenzy like a headless chicken running around panicking on an invented emergency. I woke up exhausted.
Yesterday, in the morning, after writing my pages, I allowed myself a tiny piece of paper.
It was too soon. That small allowance upset the steadiness of the day. Wormed a vein of the slightest hint of discontent and boredom and impatience through every minute that I focused on the dayjob tasks that I listed for the day. I completed the tasks but there was a taste of ire on the tip of my tongue, and my limbs were restless.
So I immersed myself into the automatic factory-style mode of editing and uploading the last batch of designs to my Society6 shop. (Hey, check it out.) At the very least it helped me regain a sense of equilibrium again.
Next experiment is to try to do one little piece at the end of day, except that my problem there is usually getting through the fatigue. I'll see how it goes later. Next experiment is to allow myself a Saturday, and the challenge there will be enduring until the next Saturday, and risking the vein of discontent slithering through the weekdays, snapping at every exposed skin, at every vulnerability.
Of course as soon as any of the dayjob projects literally begins, any art-making is out of the question. It cannot be given the thread to unravel my will and concentration for the dayjob. To rest, I will read or watch Netflix. I don't think the energy drain of shifting from dayjob to art and to dayjob again is worth it. And I don't need the art leaving lingering marks of anything on everything while I work.
I AM GOING TO GET THE HANG OF THIS. I WILL FIGURE IT OUT. It's just hard that I have to do things more than just think of them, and thus have to go through the actual consequences. Experiments are all about doing things to get results.
I owe my Patrons in Patreon a long post. But I didn't want to go in there with a half-baked story. I'll update them by tonight or by tomorrow. By then I shall have something more certain to say, I hope. Something reassuring. Because I still need their help.
You know what, I remember, and not too long ago, when I was having a hard time with the REVERSE of my situation now. My problem was that I could not immerse into my art because I could not shut off my dayjob mode -- that constant "on-call" state, and the problem-solving thinking combined with the compulsion to anticipate the needs of a client, to be on the initiative to cut short the processes (because if you are not conscientious there is an endless back and forth before things are finalised and it can get tedious). But now I could not go back fully into dayjob mode because the artist mode is an ideal state for me, and I have to break it to loosen its hold.
I'll work this out. I have to.
The past week has been an upheaval. This week I am open to negotiations but with the highest caution.
I had to deal with all the ugly emotions and all the ugly thoughts. I had to be clear which was true and which was assumption. I cannot move forward without clarity of some kind. Yes I only have to see the next twenty feet and not the whole road but I want to see what I can with open eyes and an unobstructed view. At the very least, the obstructions I encounter should not come from me, I hope.
So here's what's been happening so far. No distractions and whining from the art because its claim to the hours has been revoked. Well, there was whining but a couple of sleepless nights bombarded by the nightmare forms of daily adult duties was enough to shut the whining down. I sleep a little bit better now, with the righteous feeling that I did what I could for the day and that I made a sacrifice. Surely now I have gained a better bargaining stance with the universe?
I have been shaping how I want this dayjob thing to be. There are still a lot of old bad habits to break. New rules to make. I figured that while I am going to give more of myself into the chunky-money-making, it doesn't have to mean giving myself all away like I used to. For example, an eight-hour work day need not apply. Nor a five-day work week. I do not have to be "on call" all the time, and I do not have to jump up at every email or text message. I do not have to cater to the assumptions of clients and clients-to-be. I must be clear with my work values and assert them. This is the only way I can sustain being on dayjob-mode for a significant amount of time for, well, four days a week (five days if there is an ongoing paid project, if absolutely necessary). I am no longer my old working self from six years ago. The hardware and the software of who I am have drastically changed. There is no possibility of doing the old things in the old way (or even new things in the old way) and still remain sane.
The dayjob page (page has been deleted as of early 2017) is proving to be good way to "balance" and work out things. While I won't be able to post about projects and clients I can use the page to discuss processes and philosophies. It also offers me a venue to observe myself as I work and to enhance (or correct) habits where I can. I believe the page has also served to "calm" the inherent rebellion and resentment in the whole endeavour. It is a space to vent (creatively) and to express the opinions that I did not realise I have always longed to express about work and the work culture I find myself in.
On the other hand there is still the art page, currently limited to sharing the art and inspiration of others, and to promoting shop items. While the dayjob page was finding its groove, the art page was made to take a step back. Now that the dayjob page is getting the hang of things, the question now becomes: is there a way for the art page to become more of itself without overtaking or overshadowing the dayjob page?
I guess the bigger question is: can there be a way to allow the art something to do that is of making and not of borrowing (notice that I have been borrowing most of my images lately, and I haven't been on Instagram much for a while)?
Then the other questions follow: How do I make sure I do not become distracted from the dayjob in any way whatsoever? How do I control the flood of ideas and desire and imagination and wanting, the wild lush twining vines that grow overnight from a single seed? Is it a matter of setting days? Or hours? Or a specific space where it can only be done? That could work, but it could not be the studio, but somewhere more "limited" or contained, with limited materials, Or perhaps, a particular size of paper that anything bigger is not allowed -- to contain, to set boundaries. Yes, those last two sound better than simply setting minutes or hours that one can easily cheat on.
But will it work? Can it be sustained? Or would it be better in the long run to stick to a strict dayjob mode until my life is way past the red line?
I have to consider this very, very carefully.
It is almost 1AM. Read this post at your own risk. Ramblings ahead.
My laptop is alive again. You have no idea of the immense relief that this fact gives me. More than two weeks ago I decided to clean it up and reinstall everything to factory settings to help recover some of its old speed. The operating system would not install. I tried many times and it wouldn't, kept saying there was an error somewhere. I did research online and the symptoms pointed to a problem with the internet connection. Then our internet service went wonky for almost two weeks. I had to wait before calling customer service because we had to scrape the cash to pay off the balance in the bill, just to be sure that we are not simply being disconnected for overdue payments.
It turned out there really was a technical problem with the service and it's all fixed now and I finally got to reinstall the system in the laptop and I am so relieved. I would not have been able to afford a new one if this old laptop (a six-year old Macbook Pro) died. I need it for my dayjob projects which almost always requires a presentation, and I work best with Apple's Keynote rather than Microsoft's Powerpoint. It would have crippled me to lose this laptop. And I think it would not have made a good impression on my clients for me to have to borrow their own machines to make my presentations.
I think the threat of almost losing the laptop two weeks ago was one of those layers that added to the pressure that led me to decide to put my art on hold and to focus on the money-making dayjobs. I could have easily lived without a laptop if I were a full-time artist. I have a desktop and a tablet that served my creative needs. But I still needed to do the dayjob work and not having a laptop is unthinkable in this day and age, and for a freelancer.
The thought that if I lost it and that I would be utterly helpless and without any recourse for a replacement further impressed upon me the direness of my situation. So out of frustration, exasperation, desperation, and sheer loss of hope and shattering of faith, I decided on a break-up. With my art. A cool-off.
Believe me, all those memes and cartoons of people missing out on the last crucial turn or step to success because they gave up too soon ran through my head.
But unless I get an unmistakable huge flashing neon sign that says "Keep going with the creative journey" and with an unmistakable Undisguised Blessing, and a cache of cash that would last me the rest of the year at the very least, then I am pushing forward with the day job detour. Because I have been hardworking and trusting and faithful and hopeful and even so much more patient than I have ever been in my entire life, but the magic's not sparking enough. And I don't know if it's me or my art or the people around me or am I just really in the wrong at the wrong time, or if am I simply wrong about everything.
The break was a logical rational thing to do. I need to be composed for dayjob work, not always wanting to run away to grow imaginary gardens and play at artshop-keeping.
But I suspect the break was also a punishment of a sort. Because I failed. And perhaps I was naive. And silly. And foolish.
I'll try to sleep now.
I put up a new page for the dayjob work stuff and got busy posting to begin shaping its story. It’s going to be a collection of links to articles and sites that reflect my work philosophy, plus quotes from pertinent books, plus my own crafted thoughts and opinions with a bit of historical storytelling about my work for context, that at the same, in some convoluted way, also seeks to promote my dayjob services. I will include topics on introversion which is an aspect of the working self that is often ignored or neglected. I will include a lot of life wisdom pieces that naturally affects work wisdom. I want to address notions of productivity and value. I want to express my own work process, what makes me good at what I do, and why time to think is essential — a bit of advocacy of investing in what is important not just on what is urgent.
As a whole, it all sounded like I was having fun and that I was excited about this particular adventure. I sounded optimistic and even cheerful.
A lot of people mistake my expositions about my work as passion or deep enthusiasm. I just happen to have a way with words, and I never present anything I am not comfortable or confident with. That is also why I am not unused to the occasional applause after a great report presentation, because my conviction of the value and quality of my work has imbued the output with the emotion of a truth. The audience felt the meanings I was hoping to convey, and my crafting of words and images made the meanings more compelling. I am good at what I need to do at work. I can put on a really good show. That's what people mistake for passion.
The truth is I have been feeling numb. It has been like watching it all from a distance.
Since I decided to put my creative journey on hold, I have been going to bed with an imagined feeling of fulfilment. I borrow a lot of memory feelings from the time when all this, the dayjob and its notions of success, were what all that mattered. On a good note, there is less explicit pain and stress when I have to spend hours working. No overt resentments.
What I am doing now, with the dayjob focus and all, is what is urgent. The creative journey, that is what’s important. The creative work, that is my passion. I will find my way back to it. I promise.
“Grow where you are planted.” The other version is “Bloom where you are planted."
I want to edit that a bit. Plant yourself where you want to be and grow. Plant yourself where you know you will grow to the best that you are, where you have the most chance of becoming your potential. There are ways. Ask the trees. Ask the bees.
I was planted in a field designed for yielding produce for profit. I grew for a while and then I started to wither inside. On the outside I was a tree that got stuck in autumn. I threw a seed of myself far away. Rode river streams and hitched with storm winds. I planted myself in a wild forest, and grew a little bit wild myself.
But an ultimatum was given. Echoes from that old field. I felt the threat of an axe's consideration. I was not ready to die that way yet, even if I wanted to. My old branches trembled with the anxiety of those nesting among my leaves.
So I put the wild forest self asleep. I had grown into wobbly treeling, too soon taking a deep breath and then closing its eyes and hoping it will wake up again.
A seed knows how to wait. Most seeds wait for at least a year before starting to grow; a cherry seed can wait for a hundred years with no problem. What exactly each seed is waiting for is known only to that seed.
I pulled my consciousness to gather back in that old still autumn tree.
I shook and shivered to shed my leaves. Not without dread. Not without sighs.
I am now an old stark winter tree, awaiting a resurgence of spring.
I have put my creative journey in an indefinite holding pattern.
This breaks my heart.
Why I can’t keep on making art when I focus on the dayjob work: different mind modes. Shifting from one to the other is exhausting and the transitions are long. It’s like commuting between planets, the process of which involves putting on special gear to be able to breathe and function in the alien one, and undergoing a complicated program of acclimation every single time.
Dabbling with words is the best I could do alongside dayjob thinking. Visual work takes me to a completely different plane of thought and experience that is distinct and separate from the plane of dayjob thought and experience.
While I am able to apply creative ideas into my dayjob work, those creative ideas are already distant cousins to the lush ones I get when I am in artist mode. The dayjob creative ideas are like conversational language pocketbooks — basic and useful, but also limited. They can only be adapted to dayjob needs up to a certain point, because the context and culture are different and there is no easy true translation because of the inherent difference in values between my art and the dayjob I have to do.
So if I am serious about fixing my financials I have to begin with the low-hanging fruit — my old dayjob. But I have come to the point when I would rather starve than feed on that again and again. So I have thought about reaching for the next higher branch — or better yet, another tree in the orchard that bears a fruit in the same family but less difficult to farm and harvest. Hence this tedious and interesting foray into "Big Data" and how my twenty years of qualitative research expertise can make a difference.
But just like the old dayjob, Big Data work still resides in the same place with the same mental and emotional demands. I have to give it the same level of attention and focus, if not more. I have to give it so much of myself to make sone level of success in it, and that means having so little left for any visual art-making, so little as to be closer to nothing.
It’s that saying about not being able to row in two rivers at once. Especially if the rivers are going in entirely different directions. Especially if they are not going to end up in the same ocean.
Since I came to the resolution of just turning off the artist mode cold turkey, I have also been easing my way into the familiar habits of how I used to work with the old dayjob. I could not summon the passion I used to have, but I hope to recapture the discipline at the very least. And that I can only do if I don’t have the possibility of painting hovering around me. I have to take the painting out of the equation altogether because it will never be a fair fight.
I’m putting it in hibernation. To sleep through this terrible cruel winter.
I know this winter will stay with me always, a shard of it embedded in the shadows of my self. A forever wound, a reminder of how some people rose to prove themselves kindred spirits, and how many more disappointed and proved themselves friends of convenience. Yet also a reminder of my own weaknesses, and how I myself have often been a friend of convenience, and thus have no real claim to anything deeper than a casual fair-weather friendship. Everything has been brought to sharp stark awareness. Values weighed. Defaults questioned and redefined. Blame and guilt endured.
It is only the first few days so I am not feeling much yet. Maybe a certain shade of relief. The whole equation of art versus dayjob is a torment to carry on one’s shoulders day in and day out. I have made a choice in the past months favouring art. I know it is unfair to expect it to deliver at the same level as my dayjob which has had twenty years to become what it is. But the endless money worries are maddening in the worst ways.
Maybe this is how dreams begin to inch closer to death. The moment one makes that choice for the well-worn obvious path. For most it is an easy choice, a sensible responsible choice, an unquestionable choice. Maybe they have never even begun to really dream. For some there is a dilemma, but capitulation to the practical wins in the end because some can simply not sacrifice a particular standard of living, either for themselves or for others. For few there is the long struggle, like mine. These are the few who have hit rock bottom, been stripped to the bones, have known varieties of hunger, have endured a thousand degrees of disappointments.
These few of us either make it or not. Right now I am in the “not” category. The fact hurts. It rankles. It annoys. It angers.
The world is more terrible and indifferent than I believed it was, and not without its own brand of cruelties.
The worst of unrequited loves is to be rejected by the world you live in, or for the part that wants you be so powerless against the part that simply doesn't care.