One day at a time, I am learning to approach my dreams with purpose and place a priority on them. They may not come first in my life, but they cannot come last either.
Art is not an add-on, an extra, or a bonus that improves my well-being or quality of life. It is an integral part of who I am and, in order for me to be the truest version of myself, I need to take time to engage in creative pursuits.
Depending upon what your dreams are and where your interest lies, your creativity will have a different look than mine. When I need a creative outlet, I may take a walk, light a candle, put on some music, write, paint, or cook some Italian food. Sometimes pursuing the artist inside means sipping a quiet glass of wine or watching a movie or reading a book. Sometimes it is time spent connecting with my permanent roommate and talking together about the pursuit of our individual and mutual dreams.
The important thing is that art can’t wait. We can’t afford to push our dreams away and put off what we are passionate about until it is convenient or affordable.
Most of all, we can’t put it off until we’ve conquered our fears or mastered all the details. So very much of the time, the critical part is in the doing, in getting started. The tendency to procrastinate has already kept too many of our best visionaries silent.
For example, I love to write, but writing a book is too big. I love words, but some days they don’t seem to love me, and wrangling with them is more of a struggle than a joy. I may be excited about an upcoming project, but also fearful because I don’t know if can pull it off well. Maybe I don’t have the ability or the talent. So I hesitate. I put it off. I make excuses. I want to do it, but…
So the question I’ve come to ask myself lately: “What else am I going to do with my time?”
By that, I am reminding myself that my life here on earth comes with an expiration date. At some unknown point in the my future, my time will run out, and whatever I’ve accomplished here by then, will be the legacy I leave behind. It’s a reminder to myself to choose wisely how I invest that time. It’s also a reminder that I have to do something with my time, and what more important activity could I choose than something that makes me come alive and builds into the character of who I really want to be.
Many times we take the “responsible” road, postponing the creative aspects of ourselves, thinking we are being mature adults. What looks like conscientious, hard-working, and dutiful is, all too often, a cover-up to hide the fear. What happens when we’ve given it our best shot, and it falls short? What if we put our dreams out there, and they are rejected? What if we don’t have the ability to really do what we most desire? Fearing what it takes to go down that road, we tuck the creative nudge away and shut the drawer on the impulse and go back to doing something “important”.
Because once we indulge in creating, we expose the authenticity at the core of who we are; and masks are so much easier to maintain if we never take them off to start with. So the excuses flow…
It is too expensive, I’m not ready, it will take too long, it is too big…
That is the prime time to ask yourself the question, “What else am I going to do with my time?”
If it’s important enough, the time to do it is now. Just get started. Don’t wait for ideal conditions; don’t wait for the fear to go away, or until you feel like you have it all together.
Take a few hours or days to prioritize what is important in your life. Figure out what dreams are worth pursuing, what aspects of yourself need to come out in order to build the legacy you hope to leave behind. Then go do it.
Because really, “What else are you going to do with your time?”