Good evening, friends and neighbors!
Now that The Black Hat Baker has launched, I want to get back to making this a weekly- or even a semi-weekly- blog. I’ve had a lot on my plate, and quite a bit fell by the wayside, but that’s no excuse.
People are passionate, and they have passions. Besides your day job, you probably have at least a few things that you love doing in you’re spare time, right? Things that take your mind off your work and troubles. Crafts and hobbies that give you the creative outlet you might not get at work. They might even earn you a little side money (hey- have you checked out my sister’s writing business Say it Simply? She’s pretty awesome.) or it might be something you keep to yourself, or just trot out for competitions in your spare time. (I’ve got two meads ready for entry in the next Oregon State Fair!)
Bigfoot here is waiting for his turn…
Even though people have these passions- the ones that fill them with light and happiness- so many people find reasons NOT to work on them. Why?
Sometimes there are financial constraints, sure- I can’t let myself go and get more honey for mead if I’m concerned about getting groceries for the week. Other times there are constraints on resources- it might be difficult to get the materials you need.
For the most part, though, the reasons people choose not to pursue their passions are almost tragically mundane:
“I don’t have the time.”
“I have too many obligations- it’s not the right time.”
“I’m just an amateur- it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s a waste of time.”
Let’s take a look at these one at a time, and maybe we give you the license you need/want to do what you love- something you should never need a reason to do.
1. “I don’t have the time.”
Everyone’s busy. You, me, the whole world- if we all ran around as much as we feel like we do, there would be no obesity in this country, and the energy crises would be solved by installing treadmills everywhere.
I want to see someone do the Tour de France on one of these.
If you’ve used this as a reason to not do what makes you happy, don’t be embarrassed- you’re not alone. In fact, I’m more used to hearing it from people who don’t do something they NEED to do- exercise.
In response, I’ll say the same thing here that I say to any/everyone else-
“YOU ALWAYS HAVE TIME FOR WHAT YOU MAKE TIME FOR.”
Really, that’s what it comes down to. Every time you put off on doing something you love to do something else, you are making a value judgement. You are watching TV instead of learning a new language like you’ve wanted to? In practical terms, you are saying “Watching this tv show is more important to me than learning a new language.”
What makes it worse is when you PROMISE yourself you’ll do it. You promise yourself you’ll make time for practicing, for exercising, for whatever- and then you don’t. Have you ever had someone break a promise they made to you? Doesn’t it suck? It sucks when you do it to yourself too- so you stop trusting yourself, and you don’t make yourself anymore promises… and you do nothing.
In Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” books, one of his characters- Sam Vimes- would remind himself every time he was tempted to let reading to his infant son at 6 pm every night slide- “If you break a promise for a good reason, you’ll break it for a bad one.”
Get your priorities right, and put what’s important to you first- or it’s not important.
You might bluster at that, but facts are facts. If you want to do something that you love, start making the time to do it. Game of Thrones can wait.
2. “I have too many obligations- it’s not the right time.”
This one I admit to being guilty of. It’s kind of the inverse of the last excuse- you simply have too much on your plate, and all of it is (or seems) important. People who use this excuse might dream of an escape- a utopian world where you can have all the time and space you need to finally create something wonderful. The writer and poet Charles Bukowski had a couple thoughts on this:
AIR AND LIGHT AND TIME AND SPACE
”– you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
In the end, Bukowski is right. If you really want to create something, you feel find ANY time, ANY reason, ANY excuse to at least do SOMETHING towards it. Time and space and freedom make creating more CONVENIENT, but they certainly don’t guarantee it. The timing will NEVER be perfect- so why not start now?
3.“I’m just an amateur- it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s a waste of time.”
This one KILLS me when I hear it. People like doing something, but then some jackass comes along and tells them (or they tell themselves) they’re no good, so they should just quit.
You will never find a more pure-spirited, undiluted artist or creator than an amateur- and real professionals KNOW this. They may offer critique, or even brutally honesty. They may encourage more training, or more experience before attempting something particularly if it’s dangerous,but they will NEVER- EVER- dismiss an amateurs efforts or tell them to give up.
All artists and craftsmen know that more people, more work, more effort, raises everyone’s boat. It’s how a craft advances and improves. New blood and new ideas fuels the evolution of an industry- anyone who says different is a liar, or was beaten down too often in their own lives- or they’re actually nice people but know that douchebaggery sells on TV.
The last bit is the bit that REALLY gets me. “It’s a waste of time.”
This is self-condemnation in the extreme. Whenever I hear someone put down what they love and grumble “it’s a waste of time,” I just want to grab them and shake them. “Oh really? A waste of time? What OTHER plans did you have, might I ask? You already work like a dog, you already devote so much of your life to the things you feel like you NEED to do- please tell me, of the fraction of your life that you have left, WHAT is more important than doing the things that fill that tiny little corner of your world with light and joy? What great plans did you have for those moment, besides breathing and slipping slowly closer to the grave and calling it ‘living?‘”
Maybe it sounds a bit preachy and dark, but it’s the truth. We all have so much to do, and you have no reason not to take that little piece of your life and fill it with what will actually satisfy you and make you happy.
It doesn’t need to make you money- though it can.
It doesn’t need to win you glory- though it can if you work on it and share it.
It just needs to be something you love.
Be an amateur. Keep working on what you love.