When was the last time you sat down to work and came to, realizing that no matter what you did it wouldn’t matter?
When was the last time you followed your passion to create, to make something new, to live what you love?
When was the last time you worked?
I don’t know if I can ask another one of these questions. I’m starting to tear up where I sit, sweltering in the summer heat, fingers dancing across the keyboard in my patented people-asking-what-I’m-mad-about hammer. I love what I do. I do it far too seldom.
I love to write. I love to design games. I love to create.
It is a different type of love from the love I have for my family. It is different from the love I have for chocolate. It is a love born of a passion that flows through my mind, throws me into flow, yanks my world around, chases me as I chase it. It is a love to create.
I love to create.
The world doesn’t love me for it.
Lots of things yank me out of my passion. Demands by family, friends, work. I’ve got to shop, do the dishes, earn my keep, find the teddy bear. I don’t want to feel resentment for these interruptions. I really don’t.
But I do. I feel that I would want to spend all my time creating, none of it living outside of the world in my head.
I know this isn’t possible. I need to work, I need to take care of my family, I need to help out, meet friends, go to the gym even. There’s a lot of things that I need to do. Not all of them are things I love, things I want. Creating makes me feel alive.
Way too often do I choose the things that make me dead inside. I work too much. Do I really need all that money? Am I sacrificing myself for somebody else’s dream? If so, why?
I’ve got obligations, commitments, dreams that have nothing to do with writing or game design. I want to be a kind father, a good husband, a competent worker. I want to give my all to my family, give them everything the could ever want. I want to do well in life, do good in life, to create a life for those I care about. Even so I still resent them for it sometimes.
In the darkest hours of the night, as I lie tossing and turning over some meaningless mess at work, over the fights and reprobations that are sure to follow, I sometimes think that I should just give it all up. Throw the entire mess away. Drown my sorrows and follow my dreams.
But as dawn comes and dreams flee so do I drag myself to whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. I chose. I chose every day and I do not chose myself nearly as much as I should.
It makes me a terrible husband, a bad father, a faithless worker. My will to do good drains me of the energy to do it. I stop being myself and start being a bitter, old man. I should get a plaid shirt and start talking about the kids these days. What else is there to do?
I read a lot. Self-help book. Motivational books. Inspirational books. I read as soul food, as dreams and drawings and paintings in my mind. I read to survive.
I don’t read to thrive.
To thrive I need to create. I need time, and I need energy and every ounce of energy I put into my creating I get a thousand times back. I fill up, and I’m able to share, to give of my energy to my commitments. I become a better person, a better husband and dad. I give more and I get more in return. It’s a positive spiral, a chain of gratitude and helpfulness. And yet it fails.
Whenever I encounter stress, bad times, accidents and the spillover of pain from people I love and care about the first thing to go is my creative efforts. I cut back on the one thing that hurts only myself. And my resentment takes root. And my resentment grows. And my resentment shows.
It is stupid, really. I know what I need to feel alive. I need to eat. I need to drink. I need to exercise and to sleep. But most of all I need to create.
And I don’t.
It’s buried deep within me, the reason why. The dad who told me to stop fiddling around and find a real job. The mom who worried about all the time I spent with my little hobby instead of meeting friends. The guidance chancellor, the values in society, the endless chorus of well-meaning voices saying don’t, don’t, don’t.
Do create. Don’t make my mistake. Don’t let your guilt or fear or shame force you out of creating. Don’t let money or prestige or expectations rule your life. Create. Create whenever you can, and you can more than you think you can. You can find the time. You can take the time. Make it if you have to. Cut out all the things that people tell you are important. You will not die of dirty dishes. You will not suffocate by garden weeds. You will not. So do.