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. Being 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 itâ€™s not only your monetary success that will soon be forestalled. You may find that the passion for what was previously your â€œinspired workâ€ will quickly minify to â€œbusy workâ€. 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 donâ€™t want to go will put a check in the box of your lifeâ€™s spreadsheet in the column labeled â€œFailure Due to Bad Decisionsâ€! This spreadsheet fieldâ€™s formula is a simple â€œyesâ€ or â€œnoâ€. Too many metaphors? Probably not.
Here are a few signs that your life may soon have a check in the box labeled “Failure Due to Bad Decisions”:
- Look for your inability to make a decision without consulting at least one powerful person or your posse.
- 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 wonâ€™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 wonâ€™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.
- Look for writer’s block, depression or rage in yourself even if you are able to hide it from others.
- Look for friends who are always tempting you to quit working for the night and go out on the town.
- Look at your unsecured credit card debt.
- Look for a pattern of buyer’s remorse.
- Look at the size of your “regrets” file versus the size of your “aspirations” file.
- Look at your health.
- Look to see how many times a day you say, “If I had only…”
- Look to see how many times a day you say, â€œI feel great for no reasonâ€ or â€œI have hope in my heartâ€. 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.
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