Growing up I had big dreams about where the world would take me. In some ways I’ve gone further than I ever expected, and in some ways I can’t possibly do all the things I want in a single lifetime. That’s okay. As a father, husband, and primary bread winner for the family, it’s my job to make sure that my loved ones are secure. Sometimes throughout my career that’s meant taking on jobs to pay the bills, and other times I’ve been lucky enough to find a Venn diagram where the thing I like, and the thing that pays money, align.
Regardless of that Venn diagram, I learned two years ago the importance of always having a small thing in my life that is for me, and by me. Even when work is going well, I need to have a part of my day where I go create something that isn’t for my normal job. I’d argue, in fact, that it’s just as critical when the day job is going well, as when things are headed in a downward slope.
Right now, this post, is part of that. On most days I write fiction, disappear into Ulysses on my Mac for a while and knock out a thousand words. Today, however, my attention is spent. I had some awesome things come up at work that pulled my energy into solving work specific problems, and so I feel myself empty and ready to close out the day. However, because of my commitment to myself, I need to give my creative side room to breath and exist.
Some days it means journaling, writing words that I alone will ever see. Some days it’s writing a post for this site, and other days it’s my fictional writing. All of them are valuable though. Each plays a part, and each keeps me to my commitment of getting words on digital ink on a regular basis.
Having that special thing I do is critical. It helps to fuel my creativity in other areas, and encourages discovery and curiosity for something that I care about, separate from any monetary incentive. There is, of course, the potential for money in my writing, but that’s not why I’m doing it. This is a wonderful escape; and opportunity to use the creative side of my brain, and the chance to push and explore things that only I may care about.
Exercise also plays into my life now, for a different reason than before. Now I exercise to give my brain and body a chance to stretch, push myself, and get away from the computer. I run because it fuels my brain and feels amazing. The parallel between exercise and creative work aren’t a coincidence. Taking time for myself, despite all that’s happening around me, helps me to be a better human for those I love. I’m 33 years old, and these lessons have taken me a while to learn. I’m guessing that there are many more lessons that the future will hold.