Make the Life You Want

by Gary Powell

We commonly understand that illegal drug use, alcohol abuse and driving on the wrong side of the road are bad for humans. However, there is no more efficient way to forestall a perfectly talented artistic career than to be unequally yoked in either a professional or personal relationship. oxen photoBeing unequally yoked is a Biblical reference, but nonetheless, I like the descriptive metaphor of two oxen of different strengths joined by a big block of wood ostensibly joining forces to pull a creative load of art. Just make sure that the oxen coupled to you is an equal in all regards: four legs, two eyes, nice haunches, health insurance and an IRA account. If that ox on your immediate right is half your weight in these areas, then it’s not only your monetary success that will soon be forestalled. You may find that the passion for what was previously your “inspired work” will quickly minify to “busy work”. The up side is that you may soon enjoy a new and flourishing resentment of nearly everything in life, always entertaining chatter at parties.

Make the life you want to live rather than living a life which only solves the problems of others unless it is your conscious choice to do so.

Having partners that either restrain us or push us where we don’t want to go will put a check in the box of your life’s spreadsheet in the column labeled “Failure Due to Bad Decisions”! This spreadsheet field’s formula is a simple “yes” or “no”. Too many metaphors? Probably not. Our culture, family, jobs and government are all willing to burden us with the yoke of hidden responsibilities until we finally rebel and simply say ‘No more’! – Gary Powell

Here are a few signs that your life may soon have a check in the box labeled “Failure Due to Bad Decisions”:

  1. Look for your inability to make a decision without consulting at least one powerful person or your posse.
  2. Look to see if you have a posse. Unless yours is consciously and legally locked to your mission, then the members of your posse will each absolutely serve their own purposes. Sadly, at first your posse won’t feel like self-serving sycophants. They will feel like friends. There is nothing better than trusted friends, however, the real ones will have their own lives and goals and won’t have the time or the interest to suck off yours. This is why so many arts programs are best organized under the Internal Revenue 501(c)(3) Tax Code.
  3. Look for writer’s block, depression or rage in yourself even if you are able to hide it from others.
  4. Look for friends who are always tempting you to quit working for the night and go out on the town.
  5. Look at your unsecured credit card debt.
  6. Look for a pattern of buyer’s remorse.
  7. Look at the size of your “regrets” file versus the size of your “aspirations” file.
  8. Look at your health.
  9. Look to see how many times a day you say, “If I had only…”
  10. Look to see how many times a day you say, “I feel great for no reason” or “I have hope in my heart”. If this never happens, you may have found the first destination pin in the map you should be using to retrace your previous bad decisions that are affecting you now. Our repetitive bad decisions can indeed be the map for learning about ourselves. Figure this out as early as possible, so you can quit making the wrong stops with the wrong people at the wrong time.

If all this is too confusing, then do this: Make the life you most want to live rather than either living the life or solving the problems of others, unless it is your conscious choice to do so. Your creative life is not any person’s or institution’s responsibility but your own.

Photo Used Under the Fair Use Policy of the United States Department of Agriculture.
All Content of Gary Powell’s Site is Licensed Under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License


2 thoughts on “Make the Life You Want”

  1. Bravo! My friend, you still challenge and captivate me! Your brutal honesty stings, but refreshes! You see it and say it just like it is. I want more of this… (I miss you, and I miss our talks.)

  2. I love this post. So very applicable to all kinds of professions. Good to get back to what matters.

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