I have a confession to make.
From Monday to Wednesday this week I was in limbo. I "drugged" myself into numbness as I designed dayjob project proposals and waited for responses, poised at the ready to execute the necessary tasks as required, grim and gritting my teeth to pull the money in. My "drugs" were iFlix (It's the local Netflix at less than half the price, and I finally got around to watching Prison Break, I'm on Season 2) and Farmville 2 (Level 27). I pushed myself to a numb state where concerns have been reduced to whether Scofield will get thwarted again, or whether I'll be able to complete a farm quest. I did not write, I did not read. I took myself to a place where I simply floated and coated myself with indifference so that when any dayjob requirement comes in I am "ready" for it and I'll just do it with as little qualm and squirm as possible. In the floating limbo space there is very little pain, very little regret, very little desire. There is only function and per-piece-purpose.
It worked, actually. I was pretty efficient with the dayjob stuff. I did not cringe when I pencilled in potential schedules in my calendar that blocked whole days. Those days are empty, nothing's being displaced, is what I keep telling myself. Think of the money coming in. Think of the bills to be paid, the debts to be settled.
I posted sporadically in my social media. I scanned my newsfeed for clues of escape. I thought a lot about my dayjob work, like poking at a wound, trying to feel if I feel like going back to employment yet when the chance presents itself (head says yes, heart says no).
Then a trail.
First that Brainpickings article on the commencement speech by Teresita Fernandez:
“Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth… will also become the raw material for the art you make.”
Then a post by someone who reacted strongly against a commercial by Toyota that endangered dogs in rivers. It jolted me from my stupor and reminded me through the haze why I wanted out of the work that helped corporations profit from the mass destruction of natural resources and the promotion of consumerism. The question rose again : how do I begin easing out, doing less, and really begin to live closer to my own values? How will I shift the flow of money and energies? I felt a spasm of an urge to make some kind of change as I planted corn and tomatoes. The fog was being pierced through, though I am still shrouded in the safety of sleepwalking through the days.
In the Fernandez article, Thoreau was mentioned, and it led me into a series of links that landed me into the page of The Minimalists who have been described as being like "Thoreau with wi-fi" which is an exact perfect description of the creative life I want to build for myself. Their page led me to other links and eventually reminded me to re-read Marie Kondo's book on tidying-up. I also downloaded book samples by The Minimalists into my Kindle and gleaned a lot from the teasers that I was able to access.
Before this there was a post by another friend in a grumpy mood who asked how exactly do full-time travel bloggers make money and are able to live such an ideal traveler's life without having to work like regular people. Someone posted two articles in the comments. I read the articles and realised that I was already halfway what those travelers have done. Substituting "making art" for "travel", the principles are essentially the same, and at the core and beginning of it is the most crucial step: minimalise your life, strip it down to the essentials. I have been on the right track, I just have to clean it up some more, and strengthen the foundations of the life I want to live.
Of the two articles, one resonated more strongly (I suspect it's because this writer sounded more introvert and the other sounded more extrovert.).
Passages that jumped out at me (and validated most of my past steps) were:
From the other article this was what I highlighted:
I HAVE minimalised my life in a significant way since 2012, but I have not completed it yet. I have to rethink the reasons and correct the motivations for some of the decisions I've made relating to it. I must align it all to the values of the creative life I want to set. I looked around the house and saw so much more to be rid of, things I could turn into cash, buy me some more time or pay off debts to pay off the time I need to work for those debts (incurred before enlightenment).
I need to have something to do aside from doing the dayjob to make the money. So this might be something to while away the time instead of just farming and cheering prisoners to escape. I can't make art while the money thing looms like a curse, and while I am in my dayjob mode. But maybe "perfecting" my tidying-up and fully embracing minimalism in my lifestyle will help the energies along to move in the direction I want them to.
The main things I took away from the initial dive into the articles were these:
It all ties up nicely, I think. A reassessment of my life possessions linked to my priorities and my need for money. Hopeful that it will lead to less need and better use for money. It's a better-thought-out way of investing in the life I want to have.
(There is, of course, the other reality that a huge chunk of the money I need to make is to support three other people. My other hope is that my inspiration will be theirs and there can be a better allocation of resources instead of the current defaults.)
I end this post with the pile of books I have pulled from my shelves to read/re-read and to integrate into a map for myself.
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I am an artist-in-progress. I started my creative journey in 2012 and have never stopped taking steps since. Always one step at a time. Always moving forward. It has been an increasingly tough and occasionally rewarding road.
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