Fumes

Fumes March 9, 2011

There’s been a lot of upheaval in Fidalgo Land since my violent encounter in October of last year. As my tens of regular readers already know, not only have we left behind a city, I’ve left behind not just a job, but perhaps a career. My master’s degree is specifically for professional politics, and while I did not anticipate abandoning that particular industry permanently before October — I only meant to put it aside for a while as I focused on my kid — events and my own attitude is making it all feel very, very distant.
Pre-DC, I had put something else aside: theatre, and along with it but less intentionally, music. So over the course of about five years, I’ve managed to skirt away from at least three professional outlets for my passions and creativity: acting, songwriting, and politics. Now as my family and I struggle to resettle ourselves in an entirely new environment, a new outlet proves elusive.

As I’d recently written here, I intellectually understand that meaning can be found well outside of one’s day job. The challenge, I wrote, is first to recognize this fact — that one is responsible for eking out that time and effort between all the necessaries of grownup life — and second, to accept that regardless of whether one is employed in one’s creative field or whether one’s job takes one light years away from that field, either way, at best we can expect to find fulfillment in a tiny percentage of that time and work. Pulling a number out of my ass, I estimated that percentage at 10%.

Well, that 10% is looking pretty unachievable these days. I have a good job now, but it’s not what one would call creative in the sense of being of the humanities. But even as I know that the onus is on me to find the time and inspiration to use what free time I have to make something of some abstract, creative value, I seem to lack the energy and the will. The desire is there, but once the day job is done, once my family has been cared for, once my sundry other obligations have been met, what dregs of psychological fuel I have remaining are usually mere fumes.

I have had designs on writing a book of essays, and had even begun the work of building an outline, assembling notes, and even writing 2000 or so words of content. But the last time I touched this project was weeks ago. Last night, I mustered the will to experiment with some sounds in Garageband in the hopes of laying foundations for new songs. But I know those foundations, as promising as they are, will sit untended-to, for who knows how long.

My fear is that creativity itself is seeping out of me. My job no longer requires the exercise of what I once thought of as my strongest creative muscles, and I am taxed by day to day life. I write less often. I am apathetic about causes about which I once felt downright evangelical. I don’t even read very much anymore — something I was already hung up about — and instead have begun to default to Netflix viewing every evening, something to which I would have been haughtily dismissive only a few short months ago.

Am I becoming a drone? Am I now only capable of getting through the business of the day, and nothing else? Am I now a mere passive consumer of creative content, rather than an active producer?

I hope not, but I think I might be too worn out, or too lazy, to explore the question.

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