You are not what you work




The end of my year proved particularly intense in terms of my workload. I was taking on extra jobs, crunching time at my day job, doing my regular freelance routine, putting together plans for my switch to total freelancing, and also working like a fool to get the house in shape. It was a lot to undertake, and I feel that unfortunately it ate into too much of the time I wanted to be spending with my wife, daughter, family and friends.


There is definitely a path in front of me that is really very compelling. Its a path in which I am building my career as an artist, colorist and translator. All the work of my dreams.  I have been committing a lot of time to these goals in terms of practice, more practice and preparation. Locking myself in my studio space sketching, painting, coloring and studying. I know very clearly that these 3 things are intertwined within me. They lay lines across the nexus of my creative self, each a branch of an ever-growing and evolving tree.


I lose myself in my work so much. In a manner of confessions, I am pretty sure I am workaholic in that, if I have a choice of what I would like to be doing, work is almost certainly going to be high on the list. This is not a bad thing, because when I think of work, I think of the best parts of myself acting in the universe.  As I get older, clarity comes more and more easily. My art, my writing, my love of languages all make up a large part of who I am.


But, and its a big but – They are not me.


As much as I carry my work as a vital part of myself, I realize more and more that I am letting other parts go. I have grown more aware that work is taking up too much time in my life. And if my life is to be true and whole then I have to have more balance.


This is I think a major concern for all creatives. The allure of paint, written words and dance is to us like somewhere between the addict and the lover. It is always so hard to leave our creative spaces behind and walk amongst the greater world.


This an attitude reenforced by popular ideas that necessitate art and artists as crazy obsessives. I always think of Van Gogh, whom so many can recite some crackpot variation of a theory on why he cut off his ear , while so few can say anything about an artist like Renoir. The latter’s own children recalled him as being simply a normal father, not a crazy painter. Yet still one of the greatest artists of the past few centuries. I guess that doesn’t make the best fodder for a film.


For the working creator work feels like a lantern that will lead us somewhere wonderful, so it becomes impossible to set down. We are anti-Diogenes, motivated not by honesty, but the next great lie that might unlock some truth in our artwork. We love this lantern even when its light is too bright for us to see a thing.


But we need a balance of work and rest, light and dark, just like the day does.  Just as our work requires routine deposits of practice, reverence and dedication, so too do our bodies, our spirits, our intellects and most importantly our relationships. Its all a cycle of give and take that plays not only into our whole selves as human beings but also into our souls as creators. Everything is feeding and growing off of one another. Our relationships feed our bodies, which feed our hearts, which feed our spirits and feed our creative work. We cannot ignore the other areas of  life simply for our art, or we risk drying up the very spring that feeds it.


It may sound silly to some to say all this, but I think when you have a day job, and dedicate the night hours to some creative calling, it is far to easy to let the hours dwindle away. We need to come out and annunciate whats important to us, and give those ideas a voice.


These thought have been dogging me as I write out my goals for the new year. I’m working hard for so many things this year, and truly feel I am on the cusp of  some really great things both in my career and artwork. But I am holding fast to a few goals in other areas of my life. Namely the development of family, of relationships and of simple wonder and curiosity.


So while I dig in and practice, prepare and build my career and talents, I will be carrying a little mantra with me as well.

You are not what you work


As I keep reminding myself, 2012 will be a year to make good or go home. I mean this as a positive motivational phrase in terms of my work life. Its a variation of put-up or shut-up, which is a little too violent for my tastes. Its another mantra meant to keep me focused on achieving the freelancing goals I have set for myself. Make good on all of my goals, and achieve the level of work I am aiming for, or go home, be quiet, get back in line, give in to the demands of the day.


Yet, as I finish writing this I hear my daughter begin to stir from an afternoon nap.  In terms of my larger life and life balance the prospect of going home seems just as welcome as making good on my work dreams.