This week’s post is for creatives who struggle with multiple muses…
I used to wish I had only one great passion in my life – a single driving ambition. I imagined the heights to which such a focused life would lead and a part of me has always envied those who have this kind of singular devotion and the success that often accompanies it.
Instead, I’ve spent my life juggling many interests. As a result, I’ve often felt over-stretched – that ache of knowing I will never realize my full potential in any one discipline because I allow myself to be pulled in so many directions.
Growing up, the idea of becoming an artistic “jack-of-all-trades” was a fate I viewed with distaste even as I resigned myself to it. Ironically, I landed my first job (Jr. Art Director/producer at J. Walter Thompson) specifically because I was a well-rounded creative with a background in art, music, writing and theater. Over the years I have come to appreciate the value of the fragmented journey. Replete with variety, it offers a wide range of experiences that would otherwise be lost in the periphery.
The hats I currently wear in my professional life include: a sculptor at Jivotica (3 days/week), a pottery artist and historical presenter at The Henry Ford (3 days/week), a theatrical director for two schools (2-3 days/week) and an author penning two original plays each year and working to complete my first novel (1-2 days/week)
Obviously these numbers don’t add up to the traditional 7-day week. Though I’d love to say I have come into possession of Hermione’s time turner, sadly, this is not the case. Some of the work is seasonal and some of it overlaps – forcing me for instance, to be a stage director and pottery artist on the same day fitting in some writing in the evening once my daughter is asleep. At other times, I am forced to sacrifice work on one project to meet the deadline of another and soon find myself scraping the edges of my day-planner for any unclaimed hours … or even minutes. There are times when I get so frustrated at having to leave things 90% complete, I just want to scream.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the excitement and variety of my life and often wonder whether I would get bored if I arose each morning to do the same work as the day before. At the same time, I find myself longing to take each project further than my schedule will allow. Over the last year or two, I’ve hit a point where the latter impulse is winning out and I am working towards simplifying my life so I can reach higher in the areas of greatest interest. Until then, I will continue to find joy in the winding, forking path and realize that I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to walk as an artist-explorer for a time.
So, to all you who are struggling as I have (and do) to make room for several interests rather than choosing between them – take heart. There may come a time when you make the decision to focus on the one or two things that most fulfill you but in the meantime, don’t overlook the excitement and satisfaction to be found in the fragmented journey.