I am an artist. The glorious part of this existence is — I get to have fun. I get to take risks. I get to create. I get to choose where and when I want to work. But the worst part of it is the in-betweens, the limbo, and the crappy pay. I once had a friend suggest to me, as we were lounging on a Hong Kong beach (sipping beer) while everyone else was at work, that I was paid in coolness. A) If only that was actually true, and B) Who needs it? I might prefer cold hard cash thank you very much!
Anyway, so when I’m working I’m having a blast but often when I’m not working I get myself into quite a funk. I wallow in my own self-loathing and poems like this become a part of the very fabric of my being.
The Happiest Day
The happiest day — the happiest hour
My sear’d and blighted heart hath known,
The highest hope of pride and power,
I feel hath flown.
Of power! said I? yes! such I ween;
But they have vanish’d long, alas!
The visions of my youth have been —
But let them pass.
And, pride, what have I now with thee?
Another brow may even inherit
The venom thou hast pour’d on me
Be still, my spirit!
The happiest day — the happiest hour
Mine eyes shall see — have ever seen,
The brightest glance of pride and power,
I feel — have been:
But were that hope of pride and power
Now offer’d with the pain
Even then I felt — that brightest hour
I would not live again:
For on its wing was dark alloy,
And, as it flutter’d — fell
An essence — powerful to destroy
A soul that knew it well.
-Edgar Allan Poe
I start looking at everyone else and wishing I was them. Comparing. I reevaluate my life – again and again. Everyone else’s life starts looking more awesome and Facebook only adds to the pain. Ah yes, here’s several hot pictures bombarding my news feed of such-and-such travelling around the world on one vacation after the next, here’s so-and-so living it up at a party, or some kind of social event, what appears to be every evening of the week, and don’t look now but there’s what’s-her-name fulfilling her destiny, hitting all of her career goals, and volunteering for her favourite charity too. Puuuuuuke. At this point, even people complaining about having too much work gets annoying because, “Hey dude, at least you have a job”.
Lately, this has got me thinking about this modern day concept of soul-searching and finding the perfect business/profession/career/job/jobs that will make you happy. A strange first world problem that people in the past, or from less fortunate cultures, probably don’t have the privilege of experiencing. Who has time to worry about self-fulfillment when you’re too worried about simply surviving; finding enough food, shelter, or not being killed. That includes the times in the past when you did the jobs that were predetermined because that’s what your social class had in store for you. Choice has given us great freedom and great power – the power to do whatever you desire. The fundamental question being: What really do I desire? It seems like a question you’re supposed to be wrestling with when you’re a teenager, choosing your path after post-secondary school. But apparently these jaded emotional first world traumas can hit you at age. Yippee.
But I’m not the kind of artist who appreciates or thrives on self-loathing so I do my best to sweep those nasty thoughts away. Luckily I have some awesome friends to help me through the times when I’m feeling low. Fellow artists and friendly Bridget cheerleaders are wonderfully supportive during the dark moments. I start to see messages that seem meant for me in just about everything, the book I’m reading, articles magically showing up in my new feeds, and serendipitous encounters.
Just last weekend I found this article about being a ‘solopreneur’ which is the perfect word for the loneliness of working for yourself: Handling Isolation in Your Worklife. And there was Wendy’s previous post with the lovely quote to get you through hard times:
Eventually, I slowly start to feel better and more energized to get stuff done. Will I get trapped in the well of self-pity once again? Sadly the answer is yes. Maybe in the winter, maybe again next spring. Last year I made myself creative cards to help me through some of my creative slumps. I must remember to look at them…