Could I have taken an artist path?

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 26, 2023, 9:58 PM | comments: 0

I was doing a little bit of editing for the documentary today. I need more material overall, but there are two minutes of produced bits that I could work on, so I did. It's fun doing creative stuff, even if it does tend to remind me about my limitations as compared to other humans with which I would collaborate, if I actually had a budget that wasn't out-of-pocket for this thing.

It's things like this that often have me wondering if I could have taken a more artistic route in my life. Just to get it out of the way, I'm not saying anything about what I should have been, because I'm firmly in the camp of people who think that "everything happens for a reason" is the worst kind of bullshit used by people who can't reconcile life events that make them uncomfortable. What I'm saying is that if I had made different decisions, would I be capable of having an artistic career that I could live off of?

When I flipped careers in a few years after college, the nature of what I did changed pretty dramatically. Working even in a 2.5-person government TV operation, I got to do all of the things. I was shooting and cutting video, doing motion graphics, designing video systems... it was all of the creative things. When I flipped to the Internet and software, it was technical and logical. I'm not saying that creativity isn't necessary in my line of work, but no one is going to be deeply inspired, laugh or cry at your work.

It seems like most people who endeavor to work in creative fields suffer a bit. Some are able to carve out a niche and be comfortable, doing deeply satisfying creative work. A lot of people though find it unsustainable. That was kind of my story. I didn't feel like I could ever have a comfortable lifestyle doing what I did. Diana hung in there in theater for a long time, but it wasn't conducive to having a social life. Mind you, we both do a ton of stuff outside of our day jobs that helps satisfy the creative itch. I think it's fair to say that we're artists, it's just not what we write on our tax returns.

This curiosity comes at an... expected time of life for me. Of course you think about your choices, and what else you might do, in midlife. What I did not expect is that the curiosity doesn't come at the expense of some negative situation. Sure, the sheer volatility and chaos of trying to build a career in tech startups, SaaS companies and such, has been ridiculous, but I think I've earned the wisdom and experience to say that I'm pretty good at what I do. I still learn everyday, there are things I don't know, but I think "success" is an earned qualification. I am confident, hopefully with humility, in my job.

What I'm thinking now is something that is akin to becoming a parent. I don't think becoming a parent changes you, it's just that you become that as well. So if I decide to lean into artistic things, it's not in spite of or to replace what I already do. I can be both.

Exploring this aspect of me also comes because of the post-pandemic, antidepressant, ASD-diagnosed awareness that I didn't have before. My years in my late 20's and mid 30's were weird, and I didn't know myself as well as I thought I did. The picture started to become clearer when I met Diana, but that has been a whirlwind with having a child and moving all over the place and constantly changing jobs. Something about 2020 allowed me to come up for air, then 2021 dished out a pile of shit. Last year, everything seemed so in focus (other than my actual eyesight, which doesn't like to see anything closer than 14 inches).

In that awareness, I can look back and say that I've always been a deeply emotional person. I know now that my brain hasn't been ideally wired to express or process those emotions, or something made me feel as though I shouldn't. But the way that art makes me feel... music, film, theater... it's deep and intense. It has always been that way. It's a gift. I've always wanted to be a party to the process of making art. Art is feeling.

I don't know what this means, exactly, but I feel like the things that I'm most into definitely go a long way toward being an artist. And yes, in my rejection of the "content creator" nonsense, I can say that I have been a bona fide writer, author, photographer, videographer, amateur lighting designer. I'm working on adding filmmaker and pro LD to that list.


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