producing isn’t enough

When I was drowning in 10pm-6am shifts, a script for a graphic novel that so far looks like it will be unpublished for a while, homework on books I hadn’t read, and trying to maintain some semblance of a personal life, I fantasized about when I would be free to create as much as I wanted.

“Once I get through this period of time where everything and everyone is exhausting, I’ll be able to make the art I want to make. Then things will be better. “ — me, months ago and missing the point

Now that I control my schedule, I’m making a lot of art:

  1. I play in two bands, both of which are creating new content (Saving Vinyl City has a full length record coming out sometime this fall, is also working on an EP, and Nomad is going to start production on a small record soon as well) and having pretty regular shows.

2. While the graphic novel is set aside for now, I’m working on a memoir about my experiences with masculinity.

3. I’m blogging regularly (ha)

4. I’m working on an EP of worship music for the first time in my life

5. I’ve got a podcast coming out this month with one of my dear friends

6. I preach occasionally, and create a few special services per month

There’s an incredible amount of privilege allowing me to do what I do. My church community is incredibly supportive of my art (much of my worship team has been to at least one of my shows), my friends are all inspiring and creative and kind. When I was imagining the ideal this spring, I was imagining something like this. Throw in a D&D game or two and a relationship with someone I admire greatly, and you’ve got a picture of just how good I’ve got it right now.

And still I wonder if I’m not doing enough. There’s this fantasy version of myself that’s just a little more disciplined, just a little more creative, just a little more focused. I wish I spent less time watching television, more time reading, I wish I set more time aside for prayer and meditation, I wish I hiked a little more often than I do. I still get despondent and lonely for no reason, that doesn’t go away just because I’m making a lot of art.

Humans are remarkably good at setting fantastic goals, and then moving the marker as soon as we get close to reaching them. Being content in where you are, even when you’re doing comparatively well, is not an easy game to play. There probably won’t ever be a point where I am doing enough work with enough discipline to naturally feel content. In fact, the idea that one could steadily feel content seems pretty impossible from where I’m standing.

But I’m trying to be more mindful of my privilege, and of the joy I feel in creating. I want to be more present in the moments where I’m working, when I’m singing with some of my dearest friends, when I’m jotting down conversations that have me in tears, when I’m typing away happily for hours on end, when I hug the people I care about, when I take a deep breath and feel air in my lungs.

If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough — Meister Eckhart

Happiness isn’t attached to production. Value and quality of life doesn’t rest on content generation or art. Being awake and thankful is compelling in a way few things can be.

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