Being human is hard. There are so many demands upon our time, our attention, our energy and money. It is a constant game of resource management, and most of us suck at it. Among work, school, friends, family, children, housework, food prep, errands, and all the other things we MUST attend to, we also must carve out time for our dreams – a resource use that sometimes feels selfish or wasteful, because who knows if they will amount to anything? It’s more of a gamble than, say, cleaning the refrigerator or finishing that project for work or calling a friend. We know those things will pay off. They’re safe. A lot of people don’t pursue their dreams at all for this reason. Others chase it relentlessly, and fail. It’s a difficult balance.
For artists, which includes writers like myself, pursuing their dream, their art, isn’t really a choice; it is a medical necessity. I spoke with a writer recently who described a time in her life when she couldn’t write, when she didn’t have any resources to give. Her health suffered greatly. When she left that situation, and could write again, her health improved. There’s no magic there, no unexplained medical curiosity. When we can do what gives us joy, stress decreases, pulmonary and digestive processes improve, muscular system relaxes, sleep improves, diet often improves (less self-medicating, though caffeine consumption may increase), mental health improves … Like I said. Medical necessity.
I have not been writing recently. I am in the midst of a divorce. I just started a new job, a new career, after having been home with my children for 10 years. These have been the darkest days of my life. I have no resources to give – I have been on starvation rations as far as my time and energy. I’m just running around resetting sliders on laundry, dishes, cleaning, money, food. I haven’t been writing. There is an element of guilt at work too. If I have time to write, isn’t there something more important I should be doing? My health has suffered. I should know better. But I still didn’t write.
And that needs to change. My life situation isn’t going to be different anytime soon. Everyone has something they could be doing besides writing, some other demand for that precious time and energy. But setting aside time for creating art and chasing dreams is necessary. It does not require justification, and we should not feel guilty or ashamed. Our passions, our art is important. We should not feed it the scraps left over from the rest of our lives, or hide it away. So I’m writing. And this is where I’m putting it. I hope you can make room in your life for your art and your dreams, too. They are more important than the laundry, cleaning the floor, paying the bills, or otherwise dealing with life as a human. For a few hours a week at least, live like an ARTIST instead.