how do you measure devotion?

Talent is cheap; dedication is expensive. It will cost you your life.
— irving stone, the agony and the ecstacy

Last month, I wrote in a post, Take a vow, the following words about devoting myself to my art making:

What if you took a vow today?
What if today, a few days before turning fifty-two, you took a vow of devotion to your art-making, in all its forms?
What would that look like?
What would have to change?
What would you add to your life? 
What would you subtract from your life?
What if all of these questions don't have to be answered in order to take the vow? 
What if the questions and the search for answers become a distraction to making the art?
What if if all you have to do is show up and make the art and let the rest sort itself out?
What if it could be easy?
I'm going to do it. I'm going to take a vow. I'm going to create my own ceremony, get down on my honest-to-goddess knees, and take a vow. 

This taking a vow to the art making? This is serious stuff. This is the day in and day out, choosing to show up, choosing to create, choosing to think about art, learn about art, do art, breathe art. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Happily ever after and all that shit. Sort of. 

That's what I want to believe. 

Some days, though, it feels like a drag. It's not even that it feels like work. If it felt like that, I could still show up knowing that the energy is being applied to something. No. Some days, it feels void, empty, pointless. I'm not even going through the motions. There are days that my body will only allow couch sitting and the mind is lost in fog. On those days, I don't feel dedicated to, committed to, devoted to anything. 

What if the devotion is still there? What if feeling the ache of not being able to be as present as I want to be shows the devotion? When I am not there, I long to be there. That counts for something and I want to remember that. 

I want to remember that I am not clicking things off a to-do list. I am not punching a time clock. I am not piling up boxes of product. I am living a life, a life of art making in all its forms. 

This life includes:

  • writing
  • painting
  • art journaling
  • curating words
  • making journals
  • sharing my work
  • asking questions
  • meditative doodling
  • nurturing movement
  • creating found poetry
  • dancing in the kitchen
  • hosting creative space
  • learning  new techniques
  • dreaming of things to create
  • showing up to conversations
  • pausing to honor the ordinary
  • seeing my world with wonder
  • immersing myself in story
  • honoring natural rhythms
  • awakening authenticity
  • expanding exploration
  • creating connection
  • sanctuary of home
  • wandering walks
  • nourishing food
  • holy kisses
  • breathing

It's a life and it's one that I want to  live well. It's made up of small moments and choices. When I ask myself, "How do you measure devotion?", I think about how to measure a marriage. I can say that I have been married for almost thirty-one years and that is one way to measure it but what makes up those thirty-one years. How do you measure that? 

I am late to this idea of being devoted to my art making. At the end of this, I am not looking to say that I've been in the business for twenty years or to have a run down of my assets to show the measure of my success. I need to know that I have been true to myself, to my authentic howl. I need to know that I have traveled well with others, listening to their stories, holding sacred space for them to be. I need to know that I never stopped learning, discovering, exploring. 

That's my measure. Tell me what is yours? How will know that you have lived up to the measure of your devotion, the measure of your success?