Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Exactly what I needed today....

Over the past few days, little voices have been creeping into my head - these voices are starting to question whether following my heart and passion has been a selfish act. I know that it hasn't been a selfish act in the sense that being able to go to work everyday in a place where I can live each day authentically, makes me a better bel, mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and person in general. (Which is amazing, and I feel truly blessed). For the most part I have had, and continue to have faith in the idea that following my heart will lead me where I need to go and that the universe will take care of me. But the reality is, I have a family. An amazing husband and gorgeous son whose lives are affected by my decisions. My primary concern for them at the moment is the risk I have taken financially. I have never been one to dwell on money or to make decisions about my career or life path based on how much money I make (truth be known I can't remember if I have ever actually asked a potential employer what my wage/salary would be in my entire life - the job itself and the difference I could make always came first in my mind). But the stark reality is that I now make less than a third of the income I was making teaching and, that in the long term, we as a family will only be able to survive with me on my current income for a few more months. Its not even that I want to live an extravagant lifestyle or anything - but just being able to pay the mortgage, feed and clothe us, pay for daycare and every day necessities cannot be done with my current income. So my dilemma of late has been how to reconcile following my heart and living authentically, with the reality of needing to support my family financially.

And then tonight I came across the following words, written by jen lemen, on having the courage to create what we most need to find (thanks to Lisa from doorways traveler for posting the link to this). Somehow this has come to me right when I needed it most and Jen's words have given me the courage to hang on a little longer and have faith in myself and the universe.

I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with a friend about the artist life and about how difficult it can be to entertain creativity when so many other matters clamor for our attention. How can I paint when my house is a wreck? How can I start a new creative venture when I have a future to prepare for? How can I devote the time required to develop new skills when ____________ (insert name of spouse, child or employer) needs me so much? How can I even entertain art as a profession when all the little voices in my head tell me I’m being irresponsible to do so?

Wrestle with (or resist!) these questions long enough and well-formed patterns emerge along with a great divide.

My “real” life vs. Art.
My responsibilities vs. my dreams.
My head vs. my heart.

It’s an artificial divide masquerading as common sense. The kind of common sense that keeps you tame, locked down, a predictable cog in the consumer machine. Work, eat, sleep. Wake up in the morning, do it all over again. This kind of rhythm may keep you and everyone you love happy and comfortable, but comfort doesn’t transform us into fully engaged human beings. That process happens when we take risks.

Risks to love.
Risks to believe.
Risks to create.

Call it self-indulgent. Call it a privilege. Call it insane. I won’t argue. But there’s also something incredibly valuable that happens when we dive into the work of making risk-taking an ongoing approach to life and art. And feel free to define art anyway you wish. When we bring that daring side of ourselves to the fore, we not only grow as human beings, we increase the chances of stumbling on something that makes true social change possible.

Benjamin Zander, conductor and recent TED speaker, talks about this kind of process as "getting beyond "f*** it"–that place where you realize it makes no sense to continue to hold back, the place where perfectionism and ego fall away and all we’re left with is pure creative passion. Creative passion that can be utilized to solve problems, deepen empathy, increase understanding and change the world.

This is the kind of human experience our world needs today–and not simply because people engaged in meaningful work are happier and more productive–but because when we engage in our true work, we fulfill our obligations not only to ourselves and our loved ones, but to the planet as well.

What would it take for you to value the unspoken wish to spend your life in a particular way? What would it mean to say out loud the one creative thing you desperately long to do? Who would benefit if you were fully alive, fully engaged in the work that draws you in the most?

I’m thinking about these questions for myself these days. I believe there is a certain kind of hope that becomes possible for our world, each time we have the courage to create exactly what we most need to find.

1 comment:

  1. Wow- this is great. Thanks for posting this. I think you would be hard pressed to find a person who couldn't relate to what you write. My best to you while you work through this process...