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View Full Version : Sunday Thoughts -- Defining Success, Finding Passion (OT like mad)...


ElSapo
05-23-2004, 12:31 PM
An artist in D.C. had an ďopen studioĒ this weekend. He works and lives out of his studio apartment in Adams Morgan, and work seems to be about all he does. He was quoted by the Washington Post as saying something along the lines of, ďas long as my painting makes enough money for art supplies, the mortgage and brown rice, I think Iím a success.Ē So the quote (that wasnít exact) intrigued me. Iíd met him a couple of times before, have a couple of his smaller pieces, but I was curious -- is he really that single-minded? Is painting really all he wants to do?

So I showed up at his apartment Saturday morning. It was one of the most intense things Iíve ever seen. His apartment is literally covered in paintings. He has a bunk bed with a mattress on top and his stereo and a chair underneath. A computer in the corner where he runs his website from. A television on one wall, a chair in front of it. And paint everywhere. Everywhere.

The place was expansive and restrictive at the same time, if that makes sense. The wooden floor is covered in splattered paint. There are portfolios of his work and stacks of paintings. The entire single-room apartment really is dedicated to living and painting. I was amazed.

You donít see that kind of dedication to one thing very often, and you donít meet very many people who define their own success by doing the one thing which they love. Actually, I donít think you find many people who define their own success in general -- I suspect most let others do it for them -- so getting a glimpse of something so single-minded was a shock.

For the record, I think he more than covers his brown rice allotment. He seems to be very successful and is getting a lot of recognition. And one of the nicest things about it is how surprised he seems by this -- modest, but eager to talk about everything heís doing. Not bragging, but in a ďwow, can you believe it,Ē kind of way.

Which brings me to another thought -- I have no idea what I want to do. None. Iím 27 years old, with a degree in journalism and a job with a publication I have zero interest in. Quitting is easy, but I donít know what to do after that. And frankly, there is little motivation to quit. The job pays relatively well, and affords me time to do whatever else it is I want to do.

And yet, Iím tired of not caring about 8-9 hours of 5/7 days a week. That seems too much to give up, too big a chunk to be emotionally detached from. To put it in poker terms, thereís a lot of EV in those 45 hours a week, but I keep mucking.

Much of it comes down to defining success. By many peopleís standards, I am successful. I live in a city I love, I get paid to do very little, I have few worries and a fair amount of security. And yet (at work) Iím not really successful, Iím just breaking even. I want to care about those 8-9 hours of my days, instead of using them to simply plan what Iíll do after theyíre over.

I need to take a leap. I know I'll be fine. But I just don't know what to make that leap towards, and it's to the point where direction may be less important than motion.

These arenít new questions, I know this. Theyíre just my thoughts this Sunday.

ElSapo

chesspain
05-23-2004, 01:06 PM
[ QUOTE ]
Much of it comes down to defining success. By many peopleís standards, I am successful. I live in a city I love, I get paid to do very little, I have few worries and a fair amount of security. And yet (at work) Iím not really successful, Iím just breaking even. I want to care about those 8-9 hours of my days, instead of using them to simply plan what Iíll do after theyíre over.


[/ QUOTE ]

Maybe it's just my view, but I think you are doing way better than "just breaking even," especially if you have all the above as well as enjoyable ways to fill your free time. My job as a psychologist offers me occasional fulfillment, decent pay for essentially 20-25 hours of work per week, and a lot of autonomy, although truth be told I would usually rather be engaged in one of my hobbies as compared to being at work. However, I do feel fortunate to have all that I do have. I know that most people have less money, less free time, and less autonomy than I do...and for this I feel grateful, even if I can't spend all of my waking hours doing something I love (which at the moment is playing poker).

turnipmonster
05-23-2004, 04:07 PM
in a lot of arts,, "success" is defined as "able to pay the rent". I felt like a millionaire the first month I paid my rent solely from playing music.

--turnipmonster