I can share with you some of the emotions I have gone through in the short period of time since I quit my day job, and how my relationship to creativity and time has changed. Quitting your day job when it feels like you must, is an action that I wholeheartedly recommend, though with a word of warning. When I quit my job, although I knew I made the right decision and had the full support of my loving partner, I immediately fell into a turbulent period of harsh self- examination. All of my excuses for not being productive were taken away. I used to say, "I'm not doing any art, I'm not learning new things, I'm not focusing on improving myself on multiple levels, because I don't have enough time or energy to do it. I'm too busy and too demoralized by my day job. I want to focus energy on my relationships and my creative gifts and follow my inspiration, but I'm too tired to try."
When I quit my job, that excuse was gone, and I suddenly had to face my fears and self-imposed limitations. Before I snapped out of it, I started to look for a new day job out of some perverse sense of duty to do something I hate instead of doing what I know to be most right for me. I felt vulnerable and defensive about not "working." It took me awhile to realize, "I am working, just not for anybody else for a change!" It was hard for me at first to say, "I'm staying home to write and make jewelry."
It almost didn't ring true. Was the real reason I wanted to stay home just that I'm lazy and undisciplined, misguided, naive and overly idealistic like my father always said I was? Would I use this time productively? Would my partner begin to resent me if I didn't produce and eventually bring some money into the relationship? Would he or his family lose respect for me if I wasn't able to produce? Would I lose respect in myself? How committed am I really? How fearful am I? Do I have anything to say that anybody would want to hear? Do I have anything to say at all? Will it lead me to ruin? Will I end up on the street? Will I be able to beat the timeclock of my eventual death, and be able to create what I was meant to create when I came into this body? How to best use the time between then and now? How best to approach death? How best to creatively live life? How best to creatively die? All of these questions raced through my mind.
One of the unexpected things is that my internal clock is reverting to synchronize to the hours I kept when I was a teenager. This period was very creative for me and my pattern at that time was to have sleep-overs with my artist friend Clay Parker. We stayed up late into the night watching bad movies and drinking instant coffee, laughing, drawing cartoons. A few weeks ago I noticed that I was repeatedly dreaming about hanging out with Clay, and I began to wonder why. Then it hit me: my inner voice was reminding me of the things that motivated me during a peak creative period for me. It was also giving me permission to adjust my waking and sleeping hours, and my relationship to time, accordingly.
Time has become less hard and fast, it is now abstract and situational. Sometimes it is blessedly slow, or it flies away when I am deeply involved in something I enjoy. Weeks pass by so quickly now! Time is kinder than it used to be. I find myself becoming more mellow. People around me seem frantic in comparison. I often stay up doing stuff until 2 or 3 AM, sleep well, then wake up at around 10 AM. Of course I have to get up at 6 AM to take my anti-HIV medications, but then I scurry back to the warm bed to have more dreams before I must rise. My dream life has often been a source of creative inspiration. Since quitting my day job, my dreams have become more interesting and involved than they used to be. Life is enjoyable and creativity flows when you are in synch with your own internal timing, not struggling to force yourself into a faster (or slower) pace of life.
Now I sleep until 9:30 or 10 AM, but I've scanned The New York Times (a good newspaper is a great source of creative inspiration), had two cups of coffee by 11:30 and I've gotten a good start at answering my email. I'm a member of the e-salon of the radical performance artist/shaman Frank Moore (you can be too; see www.eroplay.com) and a few other artist internet mailing lists. Lists of this sort can be a great source of creative inspiration as well as practical information like calls for submissions. In fact I found out about Moondance through Frank's list.
Often I will spend an entire afternoon answering a personal letter or internet post, in effect writing an essay about something, because that will have been what I found to be most inspiring at that time. I used to feel guilty about spending my time writing things that are "unproductive" but now I am learning to follow my creative inspiration. Writing such essays is my art form, baring my soul, speaking my mind, connecting with others, understanding myself. Sometimes I will spend the afternoon writing about my inner life or the world around me for The LSD (Love's Supreme Desire) Tabloid, or I will do editorial work, which I also enjoy.
Sometimes I surf the web for a little while for inspiration, diversion, or both. I used to feel bad about spending my time "surfing" but now I acknowledge that I am in fact finding creative inspiration.
Desire XXX creative network, the creation of which was inspired by a transformative spiritual trial he had in a Native American sweat lodge in spring of 1995. More information about this experience can be found at: http://www.well.com/user/bobby/SC/bloobrd.html. For a sample copy or free internet subscription to The LSD Tabloid, write firstname.lastname@example.org. Blue and DJ/musician Lars Micha design the eclectic, whimsical, glamorous Rock Candy line of jewelry from their home studios in fabulous San Francisco, California. And he is pleased to announce that he has a cartoon published in the new issue of Gay Comics, issue #25, available nationally after April 22.
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