I’m retiring. But not from my creative activities – just from the daily grind of trying to make enough money to survive without completely corrupting my art.
I applied for early social security, and my first check arrived ten days ago. This has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders that I have been carrying since I first entered the workforce in 1971.
There have been flush times and scant times, and I’ve mostly mishandled the occasional small fortune that has fallen my way. And as a result, I was usually living on the edge and often over the edge, just trying to crawl back onto the cliff before the fraying vine I was hanging on snapped and I plummeted to my financial death.
And it has been like a pressure in my head – having to put my feelings on ice and force my thoughts into directions they would never naturally run. Denying myself the freeform experience of serendipity, and stuffing my dreams in a lock-box until I have become too old to pursue many of them.
Yet there is time left. If I am lucky, perhaps another twenty years or so of reasonably self-motivated life, based on family history. Still, I have put on weight, and as a result, my feet are sometimes too painful to even stand upon. But I persist in one of my two most long-held dreams of through-hiking the John Muir Trail in one session (though it seems more unreasonable with each passing year). That, and to see Paris, are the only two dreams that have remained at the top of my mental froth. They have not abandoned me, so I will never abandon them.
But they do not define me. My drive to see in life a new perspective, to embrace a new feeling, and then to capture and share it as an essay, a photograph, a song – this is one of the key elements of my identity – the joy of communicating and then communing with others in regard to something wonderful I have found in my haphazard meandering through life, without and within.
This need to share – not to have someone appreciate the artist, but to appreciate the art. To make me smile because the thing I have created made them smile. I gather no self-worth from this. I simply gather pleasure. Not matter what it is that I discover and become fascinated by, whether it be a wholly new idea or expression of my own, or simply finding another artist who shows me his or her new perspective or experience, I want to share what I found with others.
And that is why this blog was created, and also why it has been so unfulfilling. To me, the thousands of entries I’ve made here, each with a new idea, discovery or creation, is a treasure trove – a wildly eclectic collection of the most mentally pungent and heart-warping material – a playhouse filled with the most wonderful toys. Yet no on care. Or nearly no one.
I randomly click on a like in my collection, see what is presented and ask myself, how can people not be as wholly enthralled with this item as I am? I am left with the possibilities that:
a) I am not a very good artist or creator
b) I am not very good at organizing or presenting what I have discovered
c) I am not very good at marketing what I have discovered
d) The things that fascinate me are of no interest to most people
I suspect some mix of all of these is probably the cause.
One thing is certain – how I have been going about my artistic life has not ever satisfied me and brought me no fulfillment, only frustration.
And so, as per the title of this entry, a new approach is sorely needed.
Due to the addition of the guaranteed income of the social security each month to my meager business profits, I should be able to survive with far less of my time devoted to meaningless money-generating tasks.
I have determined that because I have historically been SO close to the edge, that I make 90% of my profit from the first 10% of my labor, but then must put in 90% of my labor to make the additional 10% of my profit so I don’t go under.
With social security, that ends. I can do the 10% labor for the 90% profit and then forget about that final 10% profit and get back 90% of my time.
How will I spend it? How can I maximize my journey through life with the hopefully healthy time I have left?
The answer to that is part of this new approach.
a) When I get an idea, an inspiration, a concept I wish to pursue, I can drop whatever I’m doing and chase after it.
b) Rather than try to complete art in which my interest is transitory, I’ll simply post it here in its raw form – unfinished, but sufficient to convey the notion that interested me in the first place.
c) In addition to this ongoing temporal expression, I will take the time to create proper web pages here where, as I am so moved, I will begin to organize my material in a far more accessible manner than I ever have before.
Turning my attention from the mundane to the incredible will bring life back to my life.
Categorizing and properly presenting my body of work will bring me satisfaction that those things meaningful to me will persist to bring joy and enlightenment to others after I am gone.
Being free to document here in this blog portion the ongoing free-flowing journey of my life, the ups and downs, the insights and effusive moments, will open the door once again to my capricious nature, to explore at will wherever the Muse leads me.
Wanderlust, in mind and expedition.
And, here in this time-flow I will also note whenever old material has been properly curated, and so those few of you who do drop by will see the ancient photograph taken in my youth, the half-finished demo of a song, the aborted screenplay, the unleavened thought – all mixed in with my headlong cascade-stumble through my remaining years.
And this, this new approach, will finally and at last bring me peace and bing me joy.
Melanie Anne Phillips
May 28, 2017