I recently stumbled across a quote from novelist Barbara Kingsolver:
It’s a fascinating statement – a testament to passion many people could never utter.
We’ve probably all had days where the world melted away as we engaged in something we love. I know I have, on many different occasions, doing many different things. But I’ve never found a calling that has consumed my life like it has for BK – unless you consider being a jackass a calling.
There are a lot of self-help books out there teaching the masses how to focus their time, minds, and energies into a singular purpose or destiny that the Universe has secretly mapped out for them. As helpful as those writings may be to some, I think they also may be the source of a lot of undue guilt and grief.
Let me explain.
It’s somewhat ludicrous to think an 18-year-old fresh out of high school has the slightest possible idea what career choice will provide meaning, happiness, and financial security for the rest of their life. Nonetheless, our young adults are encouraged to go into massive debt doing just that – committing to a best guess of future success by enrolling in university, college, or trade courses, without having experienced much of any practical interaction with a world outside of the classroom.
Many graduates of higher learning institutions will spend their entire lives devoted to something that doesn’t really make them happy. We’re taught that a stable career will be the lynchpin to secure a wife, kids, and house, and once those life elements have been procured, bliss will naturally ensue. It’s a scary thought to consider a career change once you’re entrenched in the system, and a lot of people will opt for a mediocre experience of happiness rather than roll the dice and possibly lose it all.
I’m 46, and still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. If I grow up. But I’m no stranger to playing responsible adult. I’ve toyed with several career games. I dedicated almost 2 decades of loving energy into a mural painting business that consistently provided my food and shelter. Art became not only my passion, but my livelihood. Yet as I sit here and type, I truthfully haven’t completed a single painting in the last two years. And that doesn’t concern me in the slightest.
To me, art isn’t about limiting yourself to a single medium. There are painters out there who produce the same basic image over and over again, and make a fantastic living doing it. Personally, I would go out of my fucking mind. In my world, the height of tedium is repeating something you’ve already done, especially when the motivation for doing it is to avoid rocking a proven cash-flow boat.
I’m reminded of cooking. Some people will follow recipes to a tee every time they set foot in a kitchen, and their results will be consistently stellar. When I don an apron, it’s unlikely I’ll ever cook the exact meal twice. All the fun is in continually tweaking a recipe, adding a subtle difference with each execution. Yeah, sometimes things turn out like shit, but something new is always learned. One piece of advice, don’t ever try to make portobello chickpea cookies. There’s a definite reason no one invented them yet.
I honestly don’t remember the scenario that spurred me into the world of writing, but it’s become my new form of art. It may not consume my day like it does for Barbie K, but it’s definitely more meaningful to me than a passing interest like learning the tuba, or participating in the world’s third largest equine gang-bang.
When it comes to writing, even a simple blog post, it isn’t just about getting an idea or thought down on paper (computer) as quickly as possible and moving on to other tasks. Good writing takes a lot of time and effort. So does bad writing. My words rarely flow from my fingertips structured into the eloquent brilliance you’ve come to love. Fuck no. Half the time I don’t even have a plan of what I want to explore. But if I waited for brilliant thoughts to enter my head, BonerFruit wouldn’t exist. Sometimes you just have to dive in, and trust the ideas will start materializing from the aether – and they usually do.
For me, the true fun of writing is in the editing – attempting to tweak each sentence into something that flows smoothly and effortlessly. Additional joy lies in adding inappropriate and meaningless F-bombs just to piss a few people off, or cause myself a fit of solitary laughter.
The art is in treating paragraphs as lengthy, complicated poems, working them again and again till they feel right, much like refining a painting. I hate it when I’m immersed in a book and have to go back to reread a convoluted sentence. It fucks up the magic of the situation, creating a some that this of the other time more often than not. Sorry, just fucking with you there. The best writing makes you forget you’re reading. Shitty writing makes you wanna go play X-box.
Art is in every passion we pursue. Whether it’s fixing transmissions, scrubbing toilets, or smearing feces on a canvas, a true artist takes pride in their work, and makes each project a masterpiece.
We don’t need to seek a singular purpose to call our own in order to have a meaningful existence. Our purpose is who we are – artists waiting for the right expression. Our destiny is realized every time we go above and beyond our expectations, and it doesn’t matter what the medium is, as long as it puts a smile on our faces.
Changing your focus and changing your goals is entirely normal. No one ever made fun of the most passionate flip-floppers in history, they simply labelled them “inventors,” and we now remember them as geniuses. In our day and age, they’d probably get diagnosed with OCD or ADD, and be forced to take pills the rest of their lives. (side note: It used to be just ADD, but I guess Big Pharma decided they could sell more pills with the H thrown in there. I’m betting in five years, another vowel or consonant will exist within that diagnosis, along with 10 more newly discovered “diseases”)
Michelangelo wasn’t born a master. He busted his ass, practicing every chance he could. He made more analytical sketches of a bicep than the total number of pieces I have in my portfolio of so-called fine art. At age 87, he wrote on one of his drawings, “I’m still learning.” That’s a true artist. No matter what you choose to do, the more time you put into it, the better you’ll get. And that process will continue till the day you die.
I’m the type of person who finds a lot of wonder in everything. We all do. I love to explore, I love to learn new things, and I get excited and irrational all the time over flights of fancy. So what. As long as you’re true in the moment to whatever’s making you happy, keep right on doing it, and forget what anyone else has to say about it.
The only pressure you’ll ever feel to get anywhere in this world is the pressure you’re applying on yourself. You might feel it doubly if you’re a scuba-diver, but that’s not the point.
Evolve as you see fit, on your terms, and never stop having fun. Let the adults worry about being miserable. Today’s a good day to play.
Feels like just about the right time to go develop a vegan version of kitty litter crumble cake…