Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare, "Macbeth", Act 5 scene 5

Every now and then, I find myself complaining about my job. Nothing new, nothing serious, just a general feeling of "why the hell am I here?"

Were I to explain what I do in any amount of detail, it would put you to sleep in very short order. As a matter of fact, not a day goes by that I don't find myself nodding off at my desk or drifting off into a daydream. Simply put, I am a low level accountant for a mortgage servicing company.


Yeah. It's about that interesting. I spend my days elbow deep in HELOCs and Bank In-Clearing Files and Checks and Reconciliations and Reports and Logs and...


Every time I think about it, I get a little sick. What am I doing here? Why do I put up with the idiotic people all around me? This job does little to stimulate my intellect or my creativity. Not to toot my own horn, but I believe I have both in spades. I work around idiots and I do idiot's work. I need a change desperately. I need to break out and be free.

The thought of finding another cookie-cutter job has crossed my mind, but in the end, what is the real point of that? You see, my current displeasure with my job is deep-seeded and stems from my general dislike of offices and corporate culture. Every job I have ever had in an office elicits the same response. I go in, do what needs to be done, and leave. I don't fit in and I don't really want to fit in. Not here. The places where I fit in tend to be populated by societal misfits. Artists, musicians, actors, geeks, intellectuals... These are my kindred spirits. I do not fit with the ass-kissing, self-promoting, unintelligent air-heads that surround me. I listen to them, and I just feel sorry for them. For these people, the low level accounting job is all they have. They have to be king here because everywhere else, they are peasants. They have no ambition greater than to get to the bar for happy hour. I don't fit here. I don't belong here.

Me= Square Peg. This Place = Round Hole

So, what do I do? I want to find a way to really be an artist. Not just as a hobby either. I just don't know how to make that transition. I know that there are people who use their art to make their livings. I know that they are not all famous. I know that the world needs photographers, writers, jewelers, painters, sculpters and poets. I know that there are happy people every day who do what really pleases them. I know it. I just need to find them and ask their secrets.

Sometimes I realize that what I do is done out of necessity. We need a roof and electricity and food. We need transportation and medicine. I am not comfortable trying to live hand to mouth. I tried that once. I nearly drove everyone around me mad with my constant worrying and complaining. But at some point, I need to be able to step up and do something that will not only provide food and shelter, but will nuture my soul. It feels so poorly malnourished right now. I feel a shadow of my former self. I was a musician once. I wasn't bad. I didn't get any really high-paying gigs. I was turned down more than once for groups I felt equal to. I taught small children how to play the violin to the detriment of my hearing. I took a customer-service job to make ends meet. I was always broke and never more than a paycheck from eviction. I drove a broken down car, and when it didn't work, I took the bus. I wasn't rich, but I wasn't unhappy either. I felt good about what I was doing. I felt good about the pursuit. I felt proud of the performances I gave and proud of the way I was scraping by.

Then I took better and better jobs and had less and less time to pursue music. In the end I had to decide whether or not I was really cut out to be a professional musician. But sometimes I wonder if I did it to placate those around me. Did I fall on my back-up plan because it was expected? What on earth am I doing here?

The funniest part is - music was itself a back-up plan. When I had initially told my parents that I wanted to be an artist, they responded less than favorably. Artists, you see, starve to death. They never make money and die broke and desperately unhappy. This is not a good idea. I knew I didn't want to study business, so I fell back to music. I was, after all, a good musician.

I keep coming back to that thought. I have spent the past ten years working with my back-up plan, and every year I feel a bit worse about it. What good is the back-up plan really doing me? Am I going to go through life regretting that I never really followed my dreams? Is it even possible to photograph (not weddings, not portraits, but things that I find interesting...) or paint or sculpt and make money? Am I deluding myself into another ten years of meaningless jobs that will end up going nowhere? Shouldn't I just find a nice stable career where I can earn what I am worth, move up in the company and have some clout? Do I need clout?

I don't feel like I do. And maybe that's part of the problem. I base too much of my life on a feeling. Right now I am feeling inconsequential and I would be right. If I quit today, Chim-Chim the monkey could move on in and do my job. It takes no talent and no intelligence and no charm. I want to do something that does. I want to think and react and create. I want to break out, kick down the doors to convention and shout "Here I am! Take me or leave me!" I want to love what I do and love who I am. I want to have pride in what I do every day of my life. I don't want to mumble incoherently when someone asks "What do you do?" I want to proudly point to my studio and say "I'm an artist. I create beauty."

Does that make me crazy?

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