In the best of times, I question what I’m doing with my life if not every day, at least a few times a week. I attribute it to being a creative, not an artist, a term I ascribe to painters, sculptors, filmmakers, and such, not me, I write, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But as we head to August, the sixth month of being affected by COVID-19, I think we’re all wondering what we’re doing.
My friend, artist Melissa Averinos, I think put it perfectly in her above illustration. I’m lucky, I’m getting by, nothing is terrible, I just keep forgetting what the heck the big picture is — I’m even wondering where the big picture went.
We have had an extraordinary amount of time to reflect on what our lives are all about — sometimes that’s been good, sometimes it’s a bit much. Show of hands for how many have at least thought about if not actually attempted any of the following: writing a novel, writing screenplay, changing your career, getting married, getting divorced, moving to another country, becoming an actual artist, or telling your boss you’re quitting your job? I will humbly admit mulling some ideas for a novel, moving to New Zealand, and since I’m my own boss I don’t have a boss to quit, but I do have some clients who I’ve been tempted to leave. I truly do wonder how many amongst us truly have a tight grip on who they are and what they’re doing right now. I have moments, but they’re just that — moments, where I feel centered and good, but then, like holding onto a dream you just woke up from, it vanishes.
We are in the middle of a pandemic which, I’ll be honest, I thought we’d have gotten a grip on a long time ago. Unless one is an epidemiologist I am betting most of us had no idea we’d still be looking at thousands of new cases every single day this far in, and still not be able to hug our friends, see our families, or heck, go to a movie! So I think it’s okay if we don’t feel we’re living our best lives, now may be the time for the good-enough life.
A couple of months ago author Elizabeth Gilbert posted a video on Instagram about how NOW was the time to write your book, to pursue that long-put-off-project, to find your bliss, I guess. She said we are all always complaining that we don’t have time to pursue these put-off dreams, and well, now you have nothing but time. She was so emphatic I admit I kind of fell for it and thought, “Hell, yeah, you have to finish the play you started before this, you have to!” She was slightly shaming as she stared into the camera, and when, after a few days of following her orders I fell off from making myself do this for an hour every single day, I beat myself up. I felt like I was not living up to my potential — cue my high school guidance counselor, and I was blowing this exceptional period of creativity. Yeah, no I wasn’t.
There are times in life where just doing okay is, well, okay. I’d say a pandemic, coupled with a governmental response which is at the very least, neglectful, and at the worst, completely reprehensible, and a long-overdue reckoning with our nation’s systemic racism might not be the time you’re going to feel really sure-footed and solid, or super creative.
So the next time someone tries to guilt or shame you into feeling like you’re not living up to your potential right now, especially if it’s yourself, just remember that none of us knows what the hell we’re doing, we’re all just trying our best to get by. Be kind to yourself, and others, we’re all just trying to figure it out. But if you do figure it out, you’ll tell the rest of us, right?