East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The reformed artist

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“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live” ― Henry David Thoreau

walkingrainNow that’s hard.
Because you know, it sometimes feels wrong, sitting in a room writing when we could be out there doing something else.
Like, I love walking in the rain – so sue me.
And yet, sitting in my room while the storm rages outside, and me all warm and cozy, with my cup of tea and biscuits, writing on my old keyboard…
In the end it’s a matter of choices.

Reading feels the same – why am I sitting here and reading this (excellent, by the way) book, when I could be writing my own stuff, or take a walk under the rain (or anything else, really)?

And yet.
There’s a strange creature that haunts places where people that read and write gather – it’s the reformed artist.
It’s normally a guy, and he’s eager to tell you that he’s very happy with his current situation, thank you very much. He will repeat often that he feels a vast sense of fulfillment, and that’s the main difference between him and, you know, yourself.
Because, he will point out, life is elsewhere, and by sacrificing your existence pursuing your art, you’re missing out on a lot of things (from sex to friendship). And as a twist in the tale, in the end you’ll have wasted your life and produced fifth-rate drivel. Because you writing (or painting, taking pictures, baking cakes or throwing knives) is an ephemeral activity, and you will not reach fame and glory nor, alas, economic independence.
But not him, oh no – he’s seen the trap and dodged it, and now he lives to the full, pursuing his passion.

0a184b5ddb7f3e23b32e6b750852c347Which is just so much balderdash, of course.
Because what if, sitting here at my desk, typing away, I am actually pursuing my passion?
We can’t be all, who knows, sky-divers, or shark-hunters, or bank clerks.
Some of us actually feel good writing, or sketching, or playacting or whatever.
So maybe pouring words on a page is what makes me feel fulfilled – ok, it’s fine for the both of us, right?
You pursue your passion, I pursue mine.
And maybe it’s just a matter of balance – of not putting all of your (metaphorical) eggs into a single basket – to wit, to not expect all of the good of our life to spring from a single activity.
Lead a varied life.
Have a nice day.

Only – and here we come to the “reformed” bit – the guy can’t have a nice day, because he would love to sit and do whatever he did before he saw the light, only he tried it, and failed.
And be careful here – often it’s his own idea of failure.
Maybe his books sold moderately well but not good enough based on his expectations.

And expectations lead to suffering – that’s what the Buddha said.
Not only, evidently, when you hold them, but also when you are unable to leave them behind, much as you are convinced you did.
It’s really a haunting, you see?
It’s being haunted by your desires and expectations about something you don’t do anymore.
It must be painful.
It certainly is boring for those that have to suffer through the guy’s preaching.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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