A convergence of different interactions, thoughts, momentum brought to a halt by other plans, an incredibly unproductive day, finding that an article I had planned to pitch was just published in the last issue of the magazine I planned to pitch it to (and was poorly written to boot) and the movie “Step Brothers” has me in one of those artistic funks. Of course it’s probably not confined to artists, though I think creative people suffer from them more.
Artistic funks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and include but are not limited to: self doubt, lack of inspiration, and even downright depression. They are those days when we consider producing something but stop ourselves with a “why bother?” We can’t see the product at the other end of our struggles. We don’t find reasons to create. We don’t even believe that there is anyone out there that wants to have anything to do with what we create.
We look at other artists and think about how much better they are than us. Or we look at them as talentless hacks who were bestowed some amazing gift by the luck fairy, a gift that we never seem to come across. On these days we complain and make excuses, we wallow in self-pity or self-loathing.
A sense of entitlement sweeps over us and we expect that life should happen to us, that our talents should be found not presented. We then accept our lot in life to be subpar, substandard, and mediocre. After all, who are we to expect that anyone should take a chance on us? We don’t have the experience, the credentials, the references. We’re not a part of the “in” crowd. We don’t like talking in front of people. We don’t fit into a category.
We are either too old or not old enough. We think, “Why bother starting now,” or “I’ll start later.” And we’re always waiting for tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll feel better. Tomorrow I’ll have more money. Tomorrow I’ll know more.
But what if tomorrow never comes? Or worse yet, what if it keeps coming, just like it always has? What if our failure to act, to manufacture motivation when we believe that none exists, continues in an endless cycle of what-ifs?
They say that it is far better to regret than to live a life not knowing. At one point in life I took that to heart. I walked through the bookstore, peering over shelves at eyes that caressed pages as they read. Such intellect, such beauty. Then I watched her walk out of the door.
For a moment I thought, “I guess it wasn’t mean to be.” I caught myself.
“Today,” I said.
I set my books down and marched out that door, jogged after her. “Excuse me,” I called.
She turned, confused as though she might have dropped something.
I can’t really remember what I said. I was too busy gasping for air amidst all the nervousness swelling inside of me. I remember brown curls and a pair of librarian glasses. I also remember the response to whatever I fumbled my way through. “Thank you, but I’m engaged.”
I never forgot to look at another ring finger again.
And as I walked back to the bookstore, my heart racing away, adrenaline surging to nearly shaking fingers, I thought, “that wasn’t that bad.”
That day led to another “today,” and another and another, until one day I was presented with the news that a very long term guest would be coming to stay with me and my then girlfriend. And at that moment I took a deep breath and thought to myself “today, and for the rest of my life,” and wrapped my arms around my future wife and my little boy just starting to take shape inside of her and haven’t looked back.
But that day, and all those since would have never come if I had not stopped to say, not “tomorrow,” but “today.”
Now say it with me, and say it every time you let “tomorrow” creep into your head, because “today” is when your life is lived and tomorrow is as yet unwritten.