Wednesday, February 06, 2019

life vs. work vs. other work

The folks over at Quail Bell Magazine recently interviewed me about dgp and one of the questions got me thinking again about work / life balance, and where something like artmaking or other creative pursuits fit in to that.  I recently read an article about how Gen X is often lauded for being able to strike a life / work balance, and as someone on the tail end of that generation, I admit, it's not something that even seems possible when you're time is split between the work you have to do to pay your rent & expenses and the (mostly) non-paid work that you want to do, whether that is writing or curating or making creative things happen.

Most days I spend 8 hours in the library, and everything else fills in around that.  Becuase all of that other stuff is a choice, it feels like "life" I suppose--that opposite of "work' but is it?  Sometimes it's just as stressful and demanding as a job. I choose to do it.  I always say I've never worked harder in my life than when the Etsy shop was going full-steam, when even my weekends were spent making things to sell. Every other second of the day spent promoting and working on new ideas, photographing wares, shopping for vintage,  ordering supplies, and filling orders. It's one of the reasons I eased back a little and decided to focus mostly on the chapbooks, art and paper goods and in a little bit slower of a venue.  I was making a lot of money, which was good since I'd just moved into the studio space and needed to pay the rent, but I was also sacrificing the core of what I wanted to do in favor of that.

I now have freer weekends, but even still, I spend a good part of them working on writing related things or writing blog posts for the week, or work on visual projects,  so I suppose this is another kind of work (but is also one that feels like play sometimes, and is more solely for my own purposes.).  I do slack a little more during these breaks--I don't always check e-mail, take naps, read, binge watch things on streaming. it's probably about as close to actual leisure as I get, but there is still work involved in many ways, most of it unpaid.  I've noticed in the summer particularly I sometimes get what I call leisure-envy for all the people who seem to spend their summers touristing around chicago and hanging out at the beach--all of which seems to be impossible when you are constantly working even when you're not.

There is also that quote about finding something you love and never working a day in your life, but the problem is usually that what you love does not, in most cases allow you to live.  You can get away with this if you are born wealthy or have a well-paid spouse, but more than likely, you will not make a living solely doing the thing you love. Or even if you are among the lucky who somehow do, it becomes all consuming, mostly becuase the rewards for creative work, unless you're like a Hollywood actor, are never in comparison to the amount of energy and time invested.

I'm not sure where this leads you in terms of balance. What I consider the non-work or non-art parts of my life are maybe bout 10%--those things which, not counting, ya know, like sleep, are in no way related to work or creative work endeavors--watching movies or going out, or just doing nothing in particular.  And then you have all the little time eaters like commuting and errands and cleaning which take up another 10%. All the rest is work or art.  I sometimes look at people who have regular jobs and aren't artists or working side hustles and wonder what the hell they do with all that free time-TV maybe?  sportsball?   social media? I have no clue.

I also never wanted to be the person who spent 8-10 hours of their day at a boring job and then lived only for off hours and weekends and vacations to live their actual lives. Or worse, have to wait for a retirement they may not ever get to.   Also, that that free, clear, and relaxed time you dream about in the future when you will finally do what's important to you--it never really happens, so do the thing now..  So then the goal would seem to make sure that you are actually living the life you want to live in everything you are doing.  Obviously, there is a reason they call it a "job" and it will probably include stuff you are not that enthusiastic about doing, but also hopefully it is at least a decent place to spend your days with good people. Or at least allows you to do something there that feeds your passions.

Maybe this is more about that balance..or balancing these factors --to make sure everyday you are doing something fuels you, whether or not you are actually getting paid for it....

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