We don’t get to pick the circumstances we were born into
the hardships that befall us
or the luck we are handed
life is riddled with happenstance fortune and accidental tragedy
the degree, volume, and timing of these circumstances are among the biggest variables of human experience
no two people’s circumstances are alike
we can no more begrudge someone born into great privilege playing every advantage handed them
then we can a poor person playing every card they can to get by
we all need to play our hand
to the best of our ability
like a game of cards, we don’t get to control what’s in the deck
we only get to play the cards we’re dealt
some of us are better strategists than others
some of us will have that strategy rewarded when we are met with the fortune of a good hand
some of us have no strategy, just a damn good hand
and some of us have loads of strategy, but our cards just never come up.
The first example is the one we need to focus on, and put our attention to.
Suppose we are dealt a good hand, but we are too foolhardy to recognize it’s potential and then don’t play it right?
That is a scary concept.
It’s a fact of life, there is a huge degree of chance involved.
Taking full acknowledgment of this fact,
we can relinquish our focus on these unpredictable variables and turn our focus to the things we can control
there really is no productive alternative but to do this.
we must stop pouring energy into terrible circumstances have befallen us
or the idea that we were never given a chance
or that so many others had so more advantages from the start
these are wasteful thoughts that only impede our focus on the new cards hitting the table
let’s focus instead on having the best control of the variables within our power
so that when our luck comes up, we can play the hand smart.
we artists have a great opportunity:
instead of running away from our pain
we can run with it
instead of drowning our sorrows in alcohol
we can channel our sorrows into our work
and instead of releasing our problems to a therapist
we can release our problems through our art
we can take the ugliness of the world and turn it into something beautiful
so while everyone around us is doing everything in their power to escape the pain
we are pouring our pain into a new creation,
using it as fuel.
it is a tremendous gift
we make lemonade from the lemons every damn day.
thus, we have no need to run away from anything in our lives
there is no waste
it is all useful to us
our work and life in tandem,
the pain and beauty as one.
Hard work without meaning is suffering.
Hard work with meaning is sacrifice.
Which would you prefer? To suffer, or to sacrifice?
Many of us are familiar with the natural learning curve that applies to learning new skills.
But that’s not just relevant for learning- it applies to really any new activity.
New friendships. New routines.
Even moving to a new city has a kind of ‘learning curve’. It’s more difficult at the start.
You spend a lot of time navigating new transit systems, finding new stores, doctors, friends. You realize pretty quickly how many processes you took for granted just “knowing” in your old town. It’s hard. It’s a huge investment of time and energy.
But, after a few years, it all becomes standard. You are an expert on your new city, just like everyone else.
The learning curve is always front-loaded with the hard, hard work. It is fraught with self-doubt, mistakes, overwhelm.
Arming ourselves with the understanding of when we are IN a “curve” can help us feel a little better about what’s happening. We can mentally prepare ourselves for the initial shock of the strenuous work coming toward us. We can brace our minds for the initial insecurity, the exhausting effort, because we know that it will get easier soon.
Before we know it, we will be an expert at this once overwhelming task. That’s the nature of the curve. First, it gets harder. Then it becomes easy.
The world’s imperatives are different than your own.
You have an imperative that is unseen, misunderstood by those around you.
It can be difficult to explain to the world that you are “busy” when you are seemingly not. That there is important work to attend to, even though no client is demanding it, no employer is asking.
But this work is as important as any other. No- scratch that- it is even more important.
Because this work is your creative work. Your soul’s imperative.
If you died tomorrow, it would not be any of the “worldly work” you mourned not finishing. It would be your own work. The work that your soul is urgently crying out for you create.
Why then, do we brush this work aside for those worldly things?
Because the worldly work is more urgent. Less important, ultimately, but more pressing in the present.
There is a disconnect between work of importance and work of urgency.
One is the equivalent of falling in love. The other is fulfilling in the way of a one-night stand.
Every day I spend away from my creative work these days feels frustrating, unfulfilling.
The muse is whispering:
No more one night stands. It’s time to fall in love.
It’s time to return to the work that nourishes.
Speaking of the durability of success, it’s helpful to me right now to put less focus on the immediate short-term goal: ie: make this movie, get this gig, make it through the exercise program- and to put more thought into the 10,000 foot goal- a life-long career of film work, a lifetime of healthy exercise habits.
Keeping this perspective causes me less stress and allows me to be more patient with the task at hand.
Short-term goals are important benchmarks, but it helps me pace myself when I realize I’m sowing seeds for a lifetime rather than for the immediate reward.
Again, marathon, not a sprint. Tortoise, not the hare.