My studio... where it all happens.... :)

My studio... where it all happens.... :)

A conversation with a girlfriend today... got me thinking about this dance we artists do with money, and a wonderful realization that came along with those thoughts too.

To say that finances are difficult when you make the leap to the creative arts is to put it extremely mildly.  For myself, it meant leaving a career in a very well-paying industry, selling my house, and taking the bit of equity I had to move to the west coast where things are more artsy.  A huge financial risk, but one that I could no longer avoid. 

And the decision took a while... coming with more than one kick in the pants from my favourite Power-That-Is.  Eventually it gets to the point where you know He's not going to let you do anything less than what you're meant to do.

But I have asked myself a lot since getting here, why the struggle to make ends meet has to be so difficult ALL THE TIME!  And it is really hard. To the point where sometimes, I'm a bit embarrassed telling people I'm an artist, because gee, inevitably someone asks if you're starving, or even better, when you're going to get a "real" job.  These days, treating myself to anything indulgent, is no longer a new pair of shoes or dinner out with a friend.  It's buying the yogurt I really like at the grocery store even though it's a couple dollars more, or renting a movie on VOD, or driving once more into the city this week even though I know the gas tank is getting low.

Which brings me to the conversation this morning... talking about trying to make a go of it in a new place, finding friends and community, getting settled and grappling with the proverbial thorn in my side - money.

This led me to wondering if I would want it any other way right now.... And the answer to that, ultimately, is no.  If I look around me, I see I'm living in a rented, furnished apartment, and have taken living frugally to a high art form.  I can get sad about it all if I let myself, especially when I'm taking walks on the beach, past all those crazy expensive homes lived in by people my age. 

But then I realize, I am spending my days exactly as I always dreamed of, doing the thing I most want to do. The fact that things aren't progressing as quickly as I'd like, doesn't mean it isn't working, so much as my patience sucks and my focus can be too easily side-railed by worrying thoughts.

So this is the epiphany that came this morning.... The financial struggle that comes with us artists giving it everything we have, is part of the calling.  We are trail-blazers by nature, and living this life leads the way for others to an understanding that money isn't at the top of the list, and never has been.  My children, family, friendships, community, even small things, like a good conversation, or laughing together, all of it ranks so much higher than money ever will. All those moments when you notice something vast in the smallest thing, become so much easier to see when money, and it's pursuit, isn't drowning them all out.

And so it is... we artists are counter-culture. We lead the culture, we do not follow it.  We ask questions, put our ideas out there, share our hearts and souls, and live in such a way that says life is about more than just paying bills until you die. It is about finding real meaning. It is about living in a place that is much deeper than economic considerations, and about making deep connections. And essential to staying on this road is understanding that it is about trusting Someone much bigger than yourself.  And about trusting that the gift I was given wasn't a mistake. That I can safely answer the call and know I will be taken care of and the needs of the people I am responsible for will be met.  It is, really, a very free place to live.

So next time you want to go to Starbucks with me, I might ask you if we can go to Tim Horton's instead. Or better yet, come over to my place for a cup.  The real connection, that everybody secretly wants, is in the intangibles anyway.  Artists have been saying this for centuries. And I will be one of those who continues to say it. Once again, what a privilege....

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