Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fitting It All In

Feet and the Triborough Bridge; Astoria Park, Queens

I haven’t been writing enough. I have a good excuse – I’m busy in the studio, happily toiling over paintings and drawings for upcoming exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles – but the predominant cause is not so benign.

I’m preoccupied by the perception that I’ve lost some degree of control. This loss isn’t all unpleasant – in fact, I’m as content as I’ve ever been – but it makes me anxious nonetheless. I thrive on order and routine. The morning workouts and afternoon jogs, the biweekly apartment cleanings and snake feedings, the dietary restrictions and alphabetized accordion files, the monthly gallery slogs: all of these are now absent. My waist is softening, I’m not sure when I last made gallery grand rounds, and the snakes sometimes go months without a rat offering (which isn’t unhealthy, but neither is it ideal).

This has to change.

When my girlfriend asked me last week how many times I attempted to quit smoking cigarettes before I succeeded, I explained that I never really quit. Sometime in 2003, when I was twenty-five years old, I realized that I was ready to ditch the expensive, unhealthy habit. I started by limiting myself to social smoking. Gradually, I smoked less and less, until even the ceremonial appeal of smoking lost lustre. Today, I’d be surprised if I smoked ten cigarettes a year.

I need to make a similar choice with regard to my work ethic. I’m thirty years old; it’s time that I adopt an adult approach to productivity.

There must be a way to fit in the art-making, the writing, the day job, the necessary chores and the relationship without sacrificing adequate sleep. Right?

Seriously, suggestions or experiences are appreciated.

Photo credit: Hungry Hyaena, 2008


Michael said...

If you figure that one out, please do share.

Problem is, you only have so many calories to burn and only a modest number of hours in which to burn them. It's possible that we (I include myself in this) are mistaken in our American notion that we can can fit all of our desires into one basket.

Still, here's to trying!

My only thoughts are pretty mundane:
-pick the #1 concern (art, good life, happy relationship, etc)
-eliminate things and activities that do not feed that concern
-pare down secondary and tertiary activities until things fit better
-take the whole thing with a grain of salt and a tablespoon of humility

Anonymous said...

sleep is for the satisfied. when the necessary work is done the sleep will be sound. of course some are always searching never satisfied. - Mog

andiscandis said...

Cocaine helps you work longer hours. So you can make more money. So you can do more coke. So you can work longer hours.

I'm sure you see where that'll lead, though.

I'm a Grade-A Pessimist so I'm pretty sure that you can't have it all. The traditional adult approach is to do what you must (paying work) and what you should (chores), squeeze in a little of what you like most (hobbies) and dream sadly about the rest.

But hey, you're a free spirit and a smartypants, so I'm sure you'll do better than average at fitting it all in.

It was good to see you last week!

Anonymous said...

I think that very often we replace listening to our bodies and minds with the safety and ease of routine. I have been an architect for 25+ year. It is a job that requires intense bursts of creativity followed by months of mundane production. I used to try to call up these eruptions of creative thought on demand or to save their energy somehow for when I needed it.

None of this worked of course and what I have found is that instead of letting outside pressures or influences dictate when I create, I simply create when I know that I can regardless of the schedule for the project that I am charged with.

This sometimes means that projects take longer than I or the client would like, sometimes the time frame is shorter. But in every case the work is superior to any that I have done in my career and I am attracting work from places and sources I would never have thought of.

I nap, I eat, I exercise, I sit and think, I doodle and draw, I listen to music and pull out my camera. I walk and sit and have lunch with my friends. I sometimes work 22 hours in a day and some days not at all. The difference between now and then is that my schedule is internally generated and more importantly listened to by me. What I have gained is access to a part of my creative process that was unavailable to me before. Our inner voices are generally not pushy or demanding, but they are frequently right and deserve to be heard. It is a risk listening to yourself without the crutch of routine, the safety of the known schedule, but I have found it to be worth the risk.


Hungry Hyaena said...


Thanks for the thoughtful response.
Unsatisfying as it may be, I suppose it's the hard truth. It would be less difficult for me if writing and art-making weren't competing for time. They compliment one another, but writing more means painting less, and vice versa. Argh.


I used to agree, but some sleep is necessary.


It was good to see you, too. I'm sorry that I was so hopped up on cocaine...but so much to do, so much to do, so much to do, so much to do!


Thank you for taking the time to discuss your experience. I hope that I might land on something so successful.