Life is hardly ever wasted. It can be under-appreciated; you can miss the joy and beauty and wonder of it all, and some might call that a waste. But if you pay attention, if you get still and take a look around, you’re going to find thousands of little miracles and wonders all here to delight you. Friends and family and their quirks. The sun in the sky and the birds in the trees. I mean, really, have you ever thought about just how weird it is that the little flying, singing creatures hang out in the trees by your house or your work? It’s so damn nice that they keep coming back year after year and waking you up in the morning.
Life is already beautiful and already full and if you’ll just live it, you’ll do fine.
But divergent thinkers and artists and creatives are often told a different story.
They’re told that this life is short and that their life will mean nothing if they don’t contribute their great piece of art to the world.
I think this is meant to be a motivation.
I think it’s meant to spur the artist on to develop their great work.
But it’s a lie.
And we know this.
But we also can’t help but feel like there is something we are meant to contribute and that it would be a damn shame if we spent our whole life’s telling ourselves we’ll start tomorrow.
And so now we’ve found a coin, haven’t we? A coin with two sides and they’re both true. It is true that a life lived with appreciation and acceptance is a life well-lived. And it’s also true that if you don’t keep coming back to your art, and if you don’t develop a practice in which you keep investing your time and your energy and your attention into your projects, your family and friends and community and the world will never know what you could have delivered to them.
It’s likely that theme parks would have been introduced as an improvement on the traditional carnivals and amusement parks, but without Walt Disney, there would have never been something quite so unique as Disneyland.
But your contribution doesn’t have to change the world. The scope of the impact doesn’t matter nearly as much as unique signature you embed in all your work.
And it takes as while to find that signature.
It takes a while for your art to really resonate with the muse that inspired you to begin with.
It’s a worthy pursuit.
Yes, you need to eat. Yes, you’re going to have to do your day job and it’s going to suck. Yes, there are other artists out there that seem to live a charmed life and it isn’t fair because they’re already doing all the things you wish you could be doing. And, yes, it sucks because you don’t have a the time to complete this project as well as you know you’re capable of and now people are going to think you’re a hack.
But that’s all part of the job.
That’s all part of being an artist that is committed to doing art.
Part of doing art is releasing it into the wild. Publishing, shipping, posting, selling, whatever you want to call it. And it’s never going to be ready.
As Leonardo Di Vinci is quoted saying,
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
Your life is not worthless if you don’t do this work.
But you will be restless. You will feel like you have unused potential inside you just bursting to get out.
I’m convinced that an artist is never content unless they are in a steady practice of making their art. You have to wrestle with it. You have to struggle over it. You have to be disappointed with yourself when you release it. You have to feel all the feels because that is who you are and you will discover that this is a core piece of your identity and your purpose.
In her now famous diary, Anaïs Nin wrote about herself and controversial author, Henry Miller,
“The same thing which makes Henry indestructible is what makes me indestructible: It is that at the core of us is a writer, not a human being.”
And so, know that you can live your life and enjoy it without judgment and without being hard on yourself.
But also give yourself the freedom to do the thing you were meant to do while on this little blue dot: do your fucking art.