I don’t need an alarm clock. Either my internal clock or one of our cats wakes me up around five thirty every morning. When the internal clock wakes me, it’s as if it’s been up for the last couple hours. “Good morning!” It says. “We’ve prepared a list of three-hundred and twenty-seven things you need to do today, preferably before noon.” I lay there hoping to go back to sleep and to catch another thirty minutes or so of valuable sleep. It’s futile. I start reviewing the list, and with each item comes the planning and the visualization: “I’ll do this at this time and then go there to do that….could probably grab this…have that appointment at two, then need to call…have to remember…” I haven’t even gotten my first cup of coffee and the list has me laying there wide awake. At that point I get up because one or both of our cats is meowing for their breakfast. Even if they didn’t wake me, the internal planning department probably would.
And thus begins another day in the life of a full time real estate professional and artist.
People with kids and or those who work two or three jobs won’t have much sympathy. The chaotic and incredibly demanding life of working people with small children live with a level of activity and busyness that I can’t imagine.
Yet as a full time person who is also trying to be artistically active and productive, there exists some unique challenges. Apart from the ongoing issue of time management – trying to get work done at my job while also making time to write, market, promote, gig, etc., there’s an endless array of other tasks in between: grocery shopping, gym, cleaning the house, church, time with family and friends, etc.
But there’s a larger challenge. As an artist, I feel like I’m going back and forth between two worlds: the practical, working world of jobs, errands, and survival, and the creative world of spontaneity and exploration. Shifting gears between these two worlds isn’t’ easy. There are times when windows of time open up at work and I think to myself that I should go somewhere and do some songwriting. Yet I’m too immersed in the work world to be able to go to the creative world: my head is buzzing with the minutia of work – appointments, phone calls, lock changes, paperwork, phones, etc.
The other challenge is allowing myself to go to the creative world. There’s a strong and often dominate part of me that wants to do only those practical and more profitable things. Financial obligations and living in one of the most expensive cities in the world adds a lot of pressure. And living the creative life requires an artist to put all of that on hold, to compartmentalize those pressures and allow oneself to do creative and exploratory activities. And it’s not simply flipping a switch; to really go to the world of imagination, I need to do things that take me into an almost child-like place where things are peaceful, light and permissive. Taking a walk, going to an art supply store and playing with colored pens, etc.
Being creative is making a decision to do the things and take the actions towards that creative part of yourself, even when your left brain is clamoring for doing those more practical things.
In short, being an artist requires dedication, discipline and courage. It’s a life not for those who want it, but for those who need it. There are countless times when I’ve thought to myself how much simpler and easier my life would be if I just put my creative impulses and desires aside and focused on a more conventional pathway. I’ve gone through periods when I put my music aside and pursued other things. The darkness an artist experiences when they deny and abandon their creative needs is a unique kind of living death. An entire blog could be dedicated to that, but suffice to say that it’s like not having a vital appendage, a central part of your spirit is missing.
But while maintaining a busy professional and creative life is sometimes difficult, it’s often extremely rewarding. The integrity and the pride I feel in living a life that’s both self sufficient and full of determination is exciting. I was a hyper active kid and I think I’m probably a hyper active adult. While the internal clock doesn’t allow me to get as much sleep as I would like, it keeps me living a life that’s always interesting, often exciting, and ultimately deeply fulfilling.