I don't know how it is the middle of May already. To be even more to the point I don't know how it is 2012 already. I don't know how it is May in 2012. Time really does seem to be flying and I have very little, if anything, to show for it.
Jacob graduated from college a couple days ago and that event and his preparations leading up to it led me down trails of thought in which I pondered the progress (or lack thereof) in my own life, that I am still doing the same thing I have been doing since I met him - working a hotel job which pays me enough money to be comfortable but which isn't challenging at all and which is beginning not to seem like such a comfortable sum the older I get and the greater my desire becomes for meals out and proper cocktails, let alone the idea of vacations here or there. So there is that. But ahead of all of that is my failure to create something worthwhile, that all of these writerly ambitions that were at one time so strong have become less and less so. I work and I go the gym and then I make dinner and get stoned with Jacob and watch a silly movie before going to bed. I am not unhappy doing these things and some days I am even satisfied doing them but when I think of them in some aggregate sense, my days, my years, I become very unhappy with the way I have spent them.
The commencement speaker at his graduation was Laurie Anderson, who gave a really beautiful and inspiring speech that spoke to these concerns of mine. Commencement speeches usually tend to this and I get quite a thrill usually out of listening to any of them but this one was particularly apt because it was about art-making and having priorities in one's life. If one wants to be artist, one needs to make art. Simple really until you are no longer in school and have to spend most of your energy and your time working to put a roof over your head. The portion of the speech that really hit home for me was when she talked about priorities:
Around this time, I had a friend, an older artist, and I was always complaining, saying things like "I want to be an artist, but I have to figure out how to pay the rent and get a place to work. And how would I do this? How would I have time to work?"
He just kept saying in the most irritating way possible, "Just do your work."
And I said, "But Richard, that's really easy for you to say, but I have to be practical. I have to pay the rent."
And he kept saying that. And it took me a really long time to figure out what he was saying, and it was basically about priorities. If your priority is paying the rent, then you will probably pay the rent but you might not get around to making art. But if your priority is to do your work, then that's where your very, very best energy will go and paying the rent will just kind of automatically happen. I know this sounds kind of ridiculous. But please believe me on this. You just have to take this one completely on faith.
And so, here we are in the middle of May in the year 2012.