“We constantly trim the sails: some ships ply east, and some ply west, by the self-same wind that blows. It is the set of the sail, and not the gale, that determines where it goes” Chuck “C”
In other words, life WILL take you off course. It’s your job to keep your life pointed in the direction you want to go. Try to do a little more of what you love every day. And, try when possible, to do a little less of what you don’t like to do.
You may need a day job to support your art at night. You may need to miss out on some girl nights if you want you child to do better at school. You may have to go home for a few months to care for an aging parent until they have the help they need. Sometimes we have to compromise and sometimes, life throws us off track completely. But that still doesn’t mean you can’t readjust your course and continue to keep yourself on target. It might take longer or the road might not be so linear, but if you remain on your trajectory then you are not being swayed by the trade-winds or storms that inevitably appear in life.
I think this is where we also need to look at our idea about “balance”. Living a “balanced” life has become the catch phrase of what a “fulfilling” life is all about. But the harsh reality is you may never have exactly right amount of time for your physical health, mental health, relationships, work, spiritual practice, and sleep. This “balance” that we are striving for should feel more like an equilibrium rather than a perfectly level teeter-totter. Equilibriums have constant change and fluctuation as the norm. Something is thriving while something else is wilting. Something is contracting so something else can expand. For every inhale, there is an exhale. That is the balance we should aim for.
Which means, sometimes, your work has to come first. And sometimes work has to take a back seat to your family’s needs. And sometimes you need to take an entire weekend to unplug, breath deeply, and get your downward dog wagging it’s tail.
“You can have it all” is a bad lie that women were told back in the ’80’s. And now that many men are taking on more of the responsibilities of child-rearing, they are under more pressure too. Most of us all agree, that belief was toxic and has unfairly overstressed many families attempting to achieve such “balance”. But our new vision isn’t realistic either.
Twyla Tharp said that when she was in the midst of choreographing one of her masterpieces, she would seal herself into her “creative bubble” until it was complete. There is a certain level of tunnel vision needed to create something new. And whatever you’re creating…a healthy new lifestyle, a feature film, a family, a renovated bathroom…whatever your main focus is, let it be just that: your main focus. Keep your eye on the prize. Choose what you will have to ease up on to accomplish this task. (And if it’s going into hibernation from social outings, I highly suggest giving your friends the heads up so they know the cave you’re in is one of your making.)
I’m not saying to bail on all responsibilities for your art or drop your dreams when the shit storm hits. But, consciously deciding “what will it take?” is a question worth asking. And then, see how you can STILL include more of what you love than what you don’t. If you are knee deep in helping someone critically ill, you likely won’t get the book written as quickly as you had hoped. Yes, they will require most of your attention but you can still trim your sales and squeeze in some time to jot down some thoughts or read something inspiring. Just like if you just landed a role in a tv show…you wouldn’t be as available to your friends and family for a while. But, by accepting a more realistic idea of balance…change and fluctuation vs everything as a perfectly balanced scale…you can focus on what you need to do today, and less of the rest.