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Inexorable Self

Lately, my job has become somewhat burdensome. Teaching the same paintings, over and over, catering to the often unreasonable demands of entitled customers and getting yelled at when I don’t attain some impossible level of perfection – it all takes its toll. It’s true, there are elements of the job that I really love. I have some really fantastic customers who I actually look forward to seeing. I get to play with paint for a living and help people tap into a part of themselves they often neglect. And I do consulting to help other people open sip and paint studios so that they don’t have to pay ridiculous fees to a franchise. But there are times when the demands of running a small business and essentially being in customer service becomes tiresome. I’m tired of working hospitality hours that don’t allow me to cultivate friendships or have much of a social life. My life lacks balance.

Sometimes I feel like a grain of sand in an hour glass, shuffling back and forth, back and forth, marking the passage of time. Or worse, a grain of sand at the shore constantly buffeted about by a force more powerful than myself. How then, can I reclaim some measure of stature and autonomy? To neither live a life of monotony nor be subject to the ebb and flow of forces beyond my control? I find myself feeling like I’m lost in a Melville novel, attempting to hold on while the world spins madly around me but simultaneously lost in the monotony of each day. To quote said esteemed author, “Life holds thee; not thou it.” And again, “Do though, too, live in this world without being of it…retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.” I feel, at times, like I’ve lost my way in how I’ve chosen to spend my days. Singing last weekend reminded me of how much more there is out there that I could be doing, and I feel like I’m just missing it. I miss connecting with people I love. I miss making art for art’s sake. I miss, thanks to my body’s and my brain’s often cantankerous moods, feeling like I have the freedom to do and be what I choose. So many years of chronic fatigue and physical pain, and now, with my dad, so many years of feeling like I’m losing pieces of myself as I lose pieces of him, leave me exhausted and without the reserve necessary to fight my way into a different position. I’ve become too porous and at the mercy of other people’s pain. “Delight is to him – a far, far upward, and inward delight – who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own inexorable self.”

I need to figure out a way, particularly at this time of year, which is when I tend to fall into a depression, to steel myself against the pain other people take out on me. And more importantly, I need to steel myself against the pain my brain inflicts on itself. When a customer is mean, I have to remember that it’s not my fault. When I don’t do something as well as I’d like to do it, it doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. And while snuggling with the cats and watching a movie is necessary sometimes, so is kicking myself in the ass to go paint something I want to paint, not just need to paint. Equally necessary is cultivating some kind of social life. I’m bad at reaching out to friends to try to do stuff because my schedule is so difficult to work around. So I’m officially asking everyone to reach out to me if you live anywhere near me. Drag me out of the doldrums by dragging me out of the house, even if I’m kicking and screaming. Help me reestablish some balance. Please and thank you.

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