More importantly, it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to force me into taking my art career seriously, not as an afterthought, but as my life. Even more essential, it freed up the time to allow me to create art that is thoughtful and experimental and heartfelt, instead of rushed into the 2 free hours I sometimes had in the evenings after I dragged myself home from my "day job", my ego bruised from being screamed and sworn at by "potential students" all morning, and feeling frazzled from having my boss' hot breath on my neck all afternoon.
Yeah, it's scary. It's really #*$@ing scary. But I had reached Desperation Point, where living as a droid, without hopes, dreams or goals, just searching for the next enrollment, was even more terrifying. Maybe I'm a wishful thinker, but I believe there needs to be time in life for laughter, joy, drinking a glass of wine in the early afternoon, enjoying a really rainy day by lounging on the couch under a threadbare blanket watching Seinfeld episodes and napping intermittantly, trying something new that ends up being stupid but really fun, planting a garden, eating a peach slowly, reading a good book, reading a mediocre book that teaches you something, going for a run, laying in the park, petting a friendly dog with a happy face, doing anything with anyone you care about, whether it's getting lunch or making an over-due phone call or having them over for a Sunday afternoon to watch "Sweet Home Alabama" for the 105th time. Those are things that are important, I think- not Sweet Home Alabama, that movie sucks- but the things that mean something when you realize your time in this world is much too short and can be yanked at any second.
I've gotten off-track, but it doesn't matter. What I wanted to express was the feeling of freedom I'm experiencing right now because I'm living for myself and my work, not for corporate America, the rat race, the gerbil spinning tirelessly in its wheel to make another dollar and buy another pair of shoes. That's not to say I haven't been awaiting this day for months, years even, and planning and saving, twirling around in sweaty sheets all night concocting a business plan (I really do that, which is why I often reference it- I'm a horrible person to share a bed with). I'm not pretending it's going to be easy in any regard, but I've always placed a higher value on experiences than tangible things. Maybe I'll have to start making my own wine out of spoiled fruits and also invite a friend over to share the experiment with me.
Do you read Tom Robbins? If you don't, read Tom Robbins. He is one of my favorite authors of all time (coming in a close second to Jane Hamilton from Rochester, WI. Do you read Jane Hamilton? If you don't, read Jane Hamilton.). His work is very strange and inappropriate, his characters are often pitifully oblivious and sometimes uncongenial, but they are unconditionally and unconventionally free. I came across this quote in his book "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas":
“There's no such thing as security in this life sweetheart, and the sooner you accept that fact, the better off you'll be. The person who strives for security will never be free. The person who believes she's found security will never reach paradise. What she mistakes for security is purgatory. You know what purgatory is, Gwendolyn? It's the waiting room, it's the lobby. Not only does she have the wrong libretto, she's stuck in the lobby where she can't see the show.”
Damn, that's good. Really true though, don't you think? Security is over-rated and underwhelming. Don't sell yourself short-- you are talented enough and amazing enough to be doing something that MEANS something to you. Even if I don't like you, you deserve that. You're a person.
Now, I'm not telling you to run out and quit your job if your boss is a micro-manager or the people you work with remind you of The Klumps, or you simply don't feel "fulfilled". You also don't have to do something you love-- I'm sure the guy who cleans the sewers at my parents' farm doesn't love his job-- but it needs to be something you can live with and something that allows you to sleep at night. Whether that's because you're living your passion, or know you're helping people, or taking care of your family, whatever. Whatever you do, whatever it is, there have to be enough good moments. To think of spending your life waiting around for them, to me-- that is terrifying.