That phrase is long overdue for retirement as the Internet has beaten it into the ground and continues to make sure it stays there. But we should be honest: sometimes it sums up exactly how we feel. Today, as I did yesterday and the day before that, I feel the struggle in a very real way. It’s cliché to mention a profound weight on one’s shoulders as the culprit for feeling fatigued and anxious, but we should be honest: sometimes it sums up exactly how we feel. This constant nagging in the back of my mind reminding myself that I could do this or that in an effort to generate content is growing louder and louder, even after I do spend time working on something creative. That hunger for more is absolutely overwhelming at times. I need to do my job at work and all I can think about is how I can get a unique angle on a certain building for a photograph or how I can translate the shape of the skyline into a drawing or how I can go get a piece of wood laser engraved as a gift for someone who has a birthday coming up. My whole day has become an exercise in tolerance because the amount of time I have to spend between people and responsibilities features little time for art on average.
That’s where the struggle is realized. It’s like dangling a chicken leg in front of a hungry dog burdened by a leash too short. It’s all I want to do almost all the time because when I finish a project, I feel more fulfilled in that than in anything else I can possibly do. I feel so incredibly satiated that any stress or anxiety I feel up to that point leaves as soon as I consider the project finished. It exists, my vision is realized, I did something that will be here for a long time, and now I have something tangible to attach to those hours I spent making it. I can rest easy knowing the day wasn’t wasted. But the struggle is dealing with the reality that I do not do art for a living, I have people in my life I need to see and give my attention to, and I need to sleep and exercise at some point so I cannot do the art I want to do on a daily basis. It’s tolerating not doing what I feel like I should be and was meant to be doing every day.
The active, conscious denial of a passion in favor of responsibilities is pretty hard to stomach. Scheduling activities and dates in advance helps to find time to do the art I want to do, but it feels so “official” when I have to write “draw” into the evening of a Tuesday in my calendar on the previous Friday. I feel like one of those hyperactive tourists who plan exactly where they’ll be at what time over the course of their week away from the routine of their normal life. To be quite frank, it sucks. It sucks to have to partition a time and date to organically want to do art. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve realized you can’t schedule inspiration; when it comes, you need to act on it else you may never complete the idea you have.
I’m writing this because yesterday morning I had an idea for a piece but had neither the supplies nor the time to complete it. It’s not a painting or drawing or photograph; it’s mixed media with emphasis on repurposed items. I don’t know when I’ll even get the time to do it but I feel this horrible sense of urgency surrounding the entire thing. Realistically, it’s not going anywhere. I don’t need to do it this week, nor do I need to do it the next week, nor the week after that. But I cannot stop obsessing over it until I actually do it. This is the struggle.
You know when something’s wrong and it sort of echoes in your head until you either come to terms with it or something else happens to make you feel better? Like you need some sort of closure before you can stop feeling that ache in your gut and can actually concentrate on normal life again? That is the feeling I have right now and it’s just because I don’t feel like I’m making good use of my time. It’s this broken record that keeps skipping and telling me “you’re missing something, why aren’t you doing what you should be doing?” And yes, I know it’s a tired expression to mention the broken record, but we should be honest: sometimes it sums up exactly how we feel.