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.