it's about time

Time is a created thing. To say, “I don’t have time” is like saying “I don’t want to.
— lao tzu

Sometimes in life there's that moment in time, that one specific moment, that you can point to and say, that's the moment that changed my life. That's the moment where things got real. I think I had that moment yesterday. Time will tell but I do believe that I have experienced the life altering moment. 

Yesterday, I was listening to Pete Holme's conversation with Elizabeth Gilbert on his podcast, You Made it Weird. I was only about a third of the way through and Elizabeth Gilbert shared this:

“one of the most important things that I ever was given as a creative piece of advice was from an older female artist who I was complaining to in my twenties about the fact that I did not have enough time to pursue my writing because of all the other obligations that I had in my life.

The eternal complaint. You’re never going to meet any creative person who doesn’t have that essential fundamental complaint. They’re dreaming of some sort of slow grass growing lawn in a distance place where they can gently allow these things to ferment. Everyone fantasizes about that; it never comes.

Somebody is going to take you into their womb and provide for you and do all the weird bullshit of life and then you get to just create in an undisturbed uterine and temperature . ..

I was just sort of griping to her

and she said, “what are you willing to give up to have what you really want?”

It was such a seeringly important question for me at that moment in my life.

and she also said to me, “What’s your favorite tv show?”

and I said, “The sopranos”

and she said, “not anymore”

and I was like, “What do you mean?! There’s a better one?!”

and she’s like, “No. You’re done watching recreational television because if you have enough time to be engaged in a long running television series you have enough time to be writing your work. You have time. You have all kinds of time in your life. What are you willing to give up in order to have what you keep saying that you want.”

... the most efficient thing is to start cutting stuff out and saying, alright, no more of this, no more of that, no more of this or that, and look at all this world that opens up in space and time ... but to do that you have to know what you want, which is important.”

What am I willing to give up in order to have what I keep saying that I want?

What am I willing to give up in order to have the life that I want?

What am I willing to give up in order to do the work that I want to do?

These questions are rocking my world this morning. I can tell you that it doesn't necessarily feel good thinking about this. I can't identify what weirdness it is that wants to cling to something in exchange for the life that I want. It seems self sabotaging. 

I don't watch a lot of television and when I do, I almost always watch it recorded or on Netflix so that there are no commercials. A regular hour show on netflix runs a bit over forty-five minutes. With a conservative estimate that I watch the equivalent of one show per day, I calculated how much time that is in one year. It works out to 16,426 minutes or 273.75 hours or 6.843 forty hour work weeks. I spend at least seven work weeks per year just watching television shows. I know that I spend AT least that amount of time mindlessly scrolling through facebook. I am not done examining all the ways that I am twiddling away time. It's small amounts of time that add up to a significant chunk of time. 

Without that one show per day, in a year, I could spend seven forty hour work weeks painting. I could read at least one book per week. I could create 365 excavated poems. I could draw 365 faces. I could write 365 letters. I could start doing the things that I say I want to do. 

Saying that I have no time is nothing but an excuse and a really bad excuse at that. 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with watching television or catching up with news and people online. If those things are taking up the time that I could be putting toward creating the life that I want then I must make some changes. I have choices to make. 

This question is going to change the trajectory of my life. I won't let it do anything less than that. In thirty years, I hope that I will look back on this as a defining moment in my life path and the only way that happens is if I actively engage this question and make intentional choices to live differently. 

It begins with knowing what I want. That's another question that is rocking my world. 

What do I want?

That's a post for another time.