New Years and Old Fears

Well, we’re far enough into 2016 that most of us have stopped writing 2015 on our checks, which is the sign of a true adult. Or is it owning a checkbook in the first place that’s the sign of a true adult? More likely, the sign is that when you sit down to write a blog, the first idea that pops in your head is to start with a couple lines about writing checks. Yikes I’m getting old.

This is me, thinking.
This is me, thinking.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the scarcity of time lately. The question for artists used to be something along the lines of, “Are you good enough to develop a group of devoted followers who connect with what you’re creating?” Now the question is, “Are you unique enough to get anyone to pay attention for more than 20 seconds?”

Being “good” isn’t even part of the question. I skip over good things every day. There’s so much noise in our culture that I don’t have time to pay attention to every good thing being created. None of us do.

So the music biz turns into this endlessly escalating battle to shout louder than anyone else in hopes of standing out. I’m not interested in that game.

So for those of us who are creators, what is the alternative?

I’m learning (or re-learning (or re-re-learning)) the importance of finding fulfillment in the creative process, regardless of how it’s received by anyone else.

The pursuit of creating great art is always worth it. But as far as I can tell, there is a sliding scale of how much of yourself you have to give up in order to get that art in front of other humans.

I’m holding out hope that there’s an exception to that, though. That perhaps if you can create something great, and pair it with a life of kindness and honesty and selflessness, that maybe incredible things can still happen without having to go down the dark path of sleazy, narcissistic self-promotion, endlessly shouting your own name through whatever megaphone happens to be at hand. And all of that raises a new set of questions: Can I create something truly great? And can I live a life like that? I’ve got a ways to go on both fronts.

If anyone has any thoughts on this or about tips for balancing a checkbook, I’m all ears.