A Dog and a Nobel Laureate

fantasizing bubble

7:00 pm. You just got home from work. Exhausted as hell. A tiny one-bedroom apartment in the not-so-safe part of the city.

You just had a brawl with a stray dog over a pack of chicken carcasses. You were planning to use them for soup. The dog won. Your cold got a bit more intense.

You open the front door.

A headache springs up as you plop yourself onto the sofa (that you got from your parents). Painkillers? Pfft! Who’s got the money for that. And that tab at the butcher isn’t going away by itself. Thank God those bones were free.

Is this what you’re turning into now? A helpless human being who can’t even stand on his/her own feet? Jeez. “That poor bastard,” is what they say – whoever the heck ‘they’ are. Not straight to your face of course. That’s what you think pops into their brains whenever they see you in those khakis. Yes, the khakis currently on their 12th consecutive day. A new record. Well, almost a new record.

Distressing wardrobes aside, you suddenly remember that there’s some bread in the kitchen. Stale bread.

“Welp, so much for that soup.”

You gather the remaining juice inside of you to drag yourself to the kitchen counter.

Should you get a plate? Nah. Plates are for chumps. You walk to the counter, open up the loaf, and immediately start digging in.

Munch! Munch! Man, that’s some funky tasting bread. Better than nothing. Munch!

You’re going too fast though. And before you know it, a lump gets stuck in your throat.

Crap! Is this for real? Are you seriously choking?

You rush to the tap. It’s dry. THE TAP IS FREAKING DRY! That sorry excuse for a landlord! You try coughing out the lump. Doesn’t work. You try to perform a kind of self-Heimlich. Still doesn’t work. You’re panicking. Maybe you should call someone. You fall to the floor while heading toward the phone. That moldy, dusty floor that you haven’t cleaned up for ages.

I can/should continue with this. But the ending quite predictable. Also, it’s not what you want to hear, so let’s leave it at that. And hey, at least that tab’s finally off your back.

“That’s Just How It Is”

How certain is it that you are destined for such a life as an artist? Well, based on the ‘statistics,’ quite likely.

I’m in the arts myself so please excuse me for gearing this post toward a field much closer to home.

I once mentioned something about teachers – and some parents – setting up the mentality of expecting to be in a particular position in society. What I just described above is not something out of experience (still breathing) but rather a product of what has been termed as “the state of affairs,” more or less.

What’s interesting is that in college, or whenever you branch out and start living life on your own, unless you come from a fortunate family or are a product of some rare, distinct factors, you almost always go through such a “phase” regardless of the career path you choose. You may or may not rock be rocking them jeans for 10 days on the bounce, but it’s quite likely that you’ve had to settle for a more than sub-standard meal way too many times.

The reason this scenario is magnified for arts and humanities majors might be because there’s some element of truth in it. Bob Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog (600+ songs) to Universal Music for an estimated $300 million. On the other hand, a thriving Silicon Valley startup might have a valuation that is way more than that. Even three times more. And keep in mind that Bob Dylan is one of the most celebrated songwriters of all time.

Just in case you didn’t grasp it though, Bob Dylan sold his masters for $300 million. Whether it should’ve been more or not, it’s still not nothing.

You and I are not Dylan. But it raises the question of why you’re never actually guided on how NOT to be poor in your career.

It’s one thing to be aware of this. It’s a whole other thing to start complaining about it.

Escapism

Art is about generosity.

If one writes, then he/she should be writing. If your focus is on painting, then be freaking painting. Generosity is then achieved by sharing your art with the world. As much as you become aware of the factor described in the previous section, it doesn’t really matter in all honesty.

Please do not misconstrue that last sentence’s intended meaning. It does help to know about the state of the education system – and everything else – and where it goes wrong so that the coming generation can live in a better world. Even a 0.0001% difference is a sign of progress. But trying to justify mediocrity, failure, fear, or whatever with the claim that “the school system failed me” is just nonsense. Plain, utter nonsense.

What matters is what you’re going to do about it. And the solution has already been pointed out.

In case you missed it, here’s another way of putting it across.

“Perfectionists are notoriously lazy and all true artistic indolence is deeply neurotic; a pain, not a pleasure”

– Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise

Get it?

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