These past few months my life has been chaotic. Running at full speed, no resting, smelling roses or sleeping after 6:00 A.M. – just galloping around like a mad woman. I don’t have any recollection of how, or exactly when this ridiculousness started, but it became painfully obvious the day my son said, ‘Mum, I just want you to stop working.’ A painful dagger in my heart; a courageous cry for sanity.
In the middle of this craziness my physical body gave me warning signs that it was on overload, the worst being the lack of sleep. After a twelve or fourteen hour day I’d get into bed, read for a while then nervously turn out the bedside light doing my best impersonation of Sleepy the dwarf. The continuous list of ‘things to do’ would torment me as the digital clock flipped laboriously from 1:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M. Drifting in and out of sleep as the images of my sub-conscious crept into my mind. The truths, I call them. Strange, visual stories of people from my past and present, drifting in and out with hidden messages as the clock flipped over to 4:30 A.M.
The day after I stepped away from the crazy work schedule I’d become addicted to, I parked my car in the supermarket parking lot and began pushing a cart up and down aisles in a daze. My body was craving everything home cooked, I wanted to bake cookies and roast veggies. I began throwing every conceivable vegetable and piece of fruit I could find in the organic section into the cart. My mouth was salivating and I hadn’t hit the chocolate section yet.
Pushing my trolley to the next aisle I began noticing jars of pre-made pasta sauce and frozen dinners, then it hit me. I casually peaked into the trolleys of other shoppers. They were filled with ready-made muffins and tins of prepared foods, gallons of chocolate milk and ready to microwave-pre-cut vegetables. Why were these items standing out to me? I know people still cook and prepare their own food – what was happening and why were these items all I was seeing?
Then, like a puzzle, everything fell into place and I realized that this was a reminder of what’s important. This was a confirmation for my decision to move forward with my life, that smelling the roses is vital, just like cooking for my family and walking with friends. Getting off the fast track was the right decision. The pre-packaged life doesn’t work for me. I thought I’d learned that lesson already but obviously not. It’s difficult to trust one’s creativity and not get drawn into the abyss of a paycheck in these times of economical crisis, but I wonder if that’s how the powers that be want us to feel.
In so many other countries in the world, creativity is acknowledged. Musicians, poets, painters, craftsman, gardeners are all artists, and yet, here in the United States it’s almost impossible to make a living from creativity unless you’re one of the chosen few, or dead. The old line, ‘don’t give up your day job’ has become the artisan’s mantra. I see shadows of the artist hidden in angry paint on covered bridges, and half torn down posters in the streets of LA.
Throughout history it has been through art and creativity that the quiet man’s voice is heard – the truths of society. I believe that we need structure to gain complete creative freedom, but to suffocate it through fear is pure evil. So, the lesson I’ve learned this year is this. We need to earn money to support ourselves and our families, just don’t give up your dreams to your day job. Whatever it takes, keep them close to your heart and allow them to flower – water daily and cultivate them every day. The pre-packaged life isn’t all it’s wrapped up to be.