Here’s the thing. There is no there. Or not the there you think there is. There is no magical place with a perfect life/work balance, where just the right amount of people love you, your creative side is completely fulfilled, your work feeds your soul and your bank account and everyone around you is safe and healthy. It doesn’t exist. At least I have been unable to find it. And if anyone could find it, it would be me.
I spend an enormous amount of time searching for the magic formula that will bring me the most happiness. I meditate for 30 minutes every day for my mind. I do at least a half an hour of exercise five days a week, including yoga and cardio for my body. I go to therapy once a month for my psyche. I journal. I read books on how to live a fulfilled life. I’ve read:
- The Artists Way
- The Road Less Traveled
- The Law of Attraction
- Big Magic
- Daring Greatly
The list goes on. I’ve also done all the things you’re supposed to do in order to be a successful citizen. I am married, I have a computer science degree, I own a house and a business with my husband. I even do freelance web development. By all accounts I should be living in a constant state of bliss. But I’m not. Because I don’t think you can.
For the longest time I blamed it on the one thing I didn’t do. I didn’t get that theater degree and move off to LA or NYC to become an actress like I had always wanted to. Instead, I worked a normal job and got a safe degree. I hadn’t put myself out there and dared greatly like Kristin Wiig had. If only I could be like Kristin Wiig, or Parker Posey, then I’d be happy, I told myself. So that’s what I hung my hat on. That’s what I pointed to as the reason I wasn’t fully satisfied. That is until I started to put myself out there. It’s not that great.
Eight years ago my husband urged me to stop my whining and go back into acting already. I had done a bit when we first got together, but didn’t get far and quit. This time I went back and right off the bat booked a few commercials and some short films. Ooh! I was on my way! I started doing improv, which I found fun and stimulating. And eight years later, I’ve had a few more successes. I now run my own little non-profit theater, teach a few improv classes and did my first stand-up set at our open mic. I even produced a short film. And I’m no happier than I was before. I’m the exact same amount of happy. In fact, I can find all sorts of things to be annoyed with about all of my ‘passion’ activities. People don’t show up. I don’t get called for an audition. I don’t like THAT sort of improv. I have to get up at what time?
This would normally be the point in the blog post where I would turn around and give some kernel of wisdom. Nope. Don’t have one. I’m even fantasizing right now that Huffington Post will pick this up and everyone will relate and I’ll finally feel validated and loved! I’ll be asked to go on Ellen. Vans will give me a lifetime supply of shoes and I’ll be happy! And I might be. For like three days. Then I will be back to the same level of happiness, which is pretty happy, with a smidgen of discontent.
I don’t know if this is what comes with an artist’s temperament, but I’m suspecting it comes with a human temperament. Buddhists say life is suffering and that if we can just get ok with that, we’ll fare much better. So that’s what I’m working on. I’m working on getting ok with the smidgen of discontent. I’m also working on not taking it out on my friends and family, as if somehow they are responsible for it, or rather responsible for not making it go away. I also suspect they have their own smidgen to contend with.
I’ve got it! I’ll make some sort of smidgen product, put it on Kickstarter, sell a gazillion of them and then I’ll be a success! Oh, wait.