I heard a quote concerning the rewards of livelihood that went something like this: "I'd rather that my child became a taxidermist or a tax collector than a poet."
Lately, I've been trying to become someone who fits into the world a little neater, with more clear edges, in sync with my false expectations of what a man should be. And the consequences are eroding my happiness.
My business card reads out my occupations, including farmer, builder, counselor and minister. Lately, I've been applying my precious time to an angled hopscotch of vocational pursuits that would actually pay the mortgage. What makes my soul become alive and free are not necessarily on this peg board of squares and numbers. Poetry, writing, art are not high on the list of what the world rewards with money or stability.
Nearly everyone I've spoken with as a counselor has said that they do not feel like they fit in with the world, including familial expectations and popular views. This separateness and alienation seem endemic in our society. Sometimes people on the fringe can have a double dose of this splitting. In my own family I've heard that reading poetry in public is akin to being effeminate (as if that's a bad or good thing). Neighbors have given a nervous skirting smile when I tell them that I have time allotted every morning write and create. So be it.
I wonder if the sense of alienation comes not from outside of the self but from deep within. I wonder if the split could be healed if one would accept and even celebrate their God given gifts? What people think in judgment is only a reflection of how they treat themselves privately. Everyone is "special" and everyone is "only a part of the whole". As the popular song goes: "To be yourself is all that you can be...."
I go through spasms of pretending to be someone I am not. It takes the form of working really hard at something to supposedly please someone in a sacrificial manner. i.e. I will give part of my life energy to be accepted. The result is fatigue and depression.
This month I've made a commitment just to notice what brings happiness and life force flowing through me into my world. And I notice what and who depletes my joy as I give away precious small parts of myself. It may be different for you. But I feel my body and soul smile as I absorb myself into writing, art and acts kindness and service. Am I willingly offering my services or am I giving from a place of lack?
I also made a vow that I will be less "nice" and more Kind in my interactions with people. Kindness includes the giver as well as the receiver. Kindness being real and true to oneself, in the way you are put together.
I hope that you find joy in your particular art, no matter how it looks, no matter how it evolves, no matter how it pays, no matter what people say. I hope that we, as human beings, can learn how to be free to create in alignment with love and pay the mortgage.