“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art.”
Sitting poolside just a few minutes ago, I sat, eyes closed, water beading off my body, the warm air evaporating the cooling effect of the dip I had just taken and it occurred to me in a mild epiphany sort of way that what I had wished for had come true.
One year ago at this time I was just days away from quitting my soul sucking job. I had crazily put my hand on the same burner for a second time in 3 years and had learned a tough lesson about myself. I recall day after agonizing day showing up and wasting my time, hours and hours of my very precious life working for an employer that cared nothing about their employees and only about the bottom line. The job before that was the same. My talents were only appreciated when they translated into big profits for them. My take was a pittance compared to their greedy grabs. I had become so disillusioned.
I recall dreaming and longing for a different life. There had to be something more. Something more fulfilling. Something more spiritually nurturing than being surrounded by this kind of pressure. The constant performance anxiety. The unrealistic goal setting. The "shark tank" mentality. The competition. This was not me. Not that I was not capable. Oh no, I could swim in that tank as well as the rest of them. The difference was, I had no real desire to swim with the sharks. I wanted to swim by myself. In my own tank. Free to make my own decisions and set my own goals and work on my own schedule.
It made me want to escape to a desert island. I even read a book about a woman who did exactly that (turns out it is not as wonderful as you would like to believe, but that is a whole other blog). So I looked at my finances and asked myself what would a year off do to me in the long run? I asked what real difference it would make to my future if I took a year off? Let's face it, we could all be dead tomorrow and what good would my retirement savings be to me then? My daughter was fine. My house was sold. The truth was, nothing was stopping me other than the voice of the status quo that says you have to do things this way or that. Have to? Have to? Says who? No, the truth is, no one can make you do anything you do not want to do, and for most people, that is when fear steps in. And make no mistake, fear is a biggie.
Someone once said there are only really two motivating factors in life - fear and love. And when you really think about it, that is it. Once I got past the irrational fear (and most fear is irrational), I was able to take the leap. So now here I am, not quite a desert island, but in many ways even better (indoor plumbing and all), and I am not sitting on a street corner begging for coins. Imagine that!
I am looking out the window from my desk here at birds and palm trees and blue sky and writing this blog. Yesterday I finished a piece of art I was working on. A princess parrot on canvas. It turned out good enough to hang in a private part of the house (the bedroom) and it felt good to be creative for the sake of creativity. Nothing more. Nothing less. I am thinking of doing a few more pastel drawings. I heard some advice from Dr. Wayne Dyer about looking back on your childhood and remembering what you really loved doing as it was a clue to your soul's purpose as an adult. I tried to zero in on something that I really loved doing and as simple as it may sound, I actually really loved to colour. Simple crayons and colouring books could amuse me for hours. Working with the pastels reminded me of that. I think I may have evolved a bit beyond that level of expertise since then, but the feeling I had while I did it was very similar. That feeling of being totally immersed in something. Deeply focused. Going to a place where nothing distracts you. There is a feeling of completeness in those moments. There is no stress. No anxiety. Just a peaceful calm. Surely this is a place we are meant to spend more time. How could it be otherwise?
I often visit this place when I am writing as well. Or decorating. Or gardening. Any or all of these activities are art. Whether the end result is ever seen, or gets purchased, or wins a prize, matters not. What matters is that when you feel this type of immersion, nothing else enters. So I go there more often now. And that is my desert island.
My "insular Tahiti" Dr. Dyer.