“Discipline, I suppose.”
“Discipline? No—what’s your passion sweetheart?”
If discipline wasn’t my passion she would have been bruised by my response. I’m nice to a point. And that point is sometimes sharpened by context and assholes.
Further inquiry revealed her belief that discipline is a limiting state foisted upon us by ‘the man’, by circumstance, or by the moon being in the fifth house of Sagittarius while a purple unicorn takes a shit in a field of flowers drenched in the once-a-millennium raspberry tide.
I was ricocheting off the dynamics of this give and take—one moment I was surprised, the next aggrieved, and when I was alone I discovered feelings of inferiority, as though my credibility as any kind of creator had been revoked.
My passion isn’t good enough; it isn’t legit.
It also isn’t exclusive. Discipline exists for its own sake but also serves other purposes that I am equally passionate about. Such as writing, for example. Writing that typically starts at 4:30 am and is then inserted into available slots throughout the day before gathering steam again later at night.
My passion starts on time and moves like a Swiss watch. Discipline is my dirty secret; day planners are my porn.
Yes, I have more than one.
Discipline is a dirty word; work is a dirty word; responsibility is a dirty word—and don’t forget to look up because nothing on that goddamned screen matters, right?
Unless it does matter. Unless it’s timely. Unless something other than ‘feeling good and being in the moment’ is occurring in your life.
So many dirty words, so little time.
Output doesn’t peak for me after a passionate thrashing with The Muse, no matter how satisfying it was. Firm in the belief that being erratic or irresponsible opens them to the spiritual or the special, initiates often overlook the basics to dance with devil in any light—even if said light (and said devil) must be fabricated.
The performance aspect of creation is often revered independent of the discipline and willfulness that comprise the backbone of creation—people often pursue the thrill of ceremony without asking who built the alter, or how.
I understand that line of thinking. I did not effectively manage my output for years. I was stuck in my belief that an ass-in-seat commitment to getting it done was to dilute the ether that fuels creativity.
I was wrong.
Discipline is a primary prerequisites for output, rather than a belief in or consumption of a lifestyle or an idealization of a lifestyle that doesn’t exist. Freedom relies on my ability to master responsibility to the point where it is no longer an impediment to my time.
My reality is not, however, other people’s reality. Surely God has smiled on an eclectic few who get it done through erratic engagement with The Muse—but he did not see fit to include me among the blessed.
He didn’t include many of my friends or acquaintances either. I know too many people who are faintly—or not so faintly—apologetic about their day jobs and ‘mundane’ struggles. Artists, writers, designers (along with the undecided)—my heart bleeds to witness their self-shaming. Why the self-deprecation over multitasking and a (hopefully temporary) dual livelihood unevenly split between art and obligation? Do we really learn nothing and take nothing from our duties?
I reject that notion utterly.
Our world is full of self-appointed advisers. We no longer need think or feel for ourselves should that be our prerogative. We stumble across directives constantly and this relentless stumbling can lead to spinning in the wind and a sense of superiority, inferiority, or tendency to view certain lifestyles as sub-par—even when those lives are entrenched with hope, love, potential, ambition, and an upward learning curve.
Disconnecting from the complex or demanding aspects of my life is neither treat nor goal. I don’t need to be regulated by someone else, and unlike my parents I wasn’t raised with the belief that I do. We often mock and criticize the generations before us—but they are not quarantined on the other side of history after all; they are us, and we are just as easily inveigled as they.
Less discipline does not indicate superior goals.
We are bombarded with the message to disconnect and unplug or risk becoming unreal, the irony being that we could not gobble up such messages if we took the messenger’s advice. Not that such messages are about taking or giving advice anyway; they’re about buying and selling self-regard and facilitating comparisons to others. The currency used is feel-good memes and numbered lists.
Faces change but the Kool-Aid tastes the same.
Lifestyle gurus kowtow to the tyranny of ‘breaking free’ and worship ‘the authentic self’. Please—do not bring this body closer. Faux-motivational splatter—I’m over it.
My passion is strong enough and self-directed enough that I do not fear losing touch with it. I am not on the run from the world I live in. My ‘real, authentic life’ is not happening elsewhere without me. To suggest as much is infantilizing and condescending.
Passion requires discipline, love, and commitment to grow—a one way ticket to Bali or someone else’s bullet list isn’t enough. Pursuing my passion is not dependent on ‘passion’ itself. If it were I’d be severely fucked.
If you’re struggling to stay connected try buying and using a day planner; ignore 90% of what you’re exposed to, and get to work.
And mind your own fucking business while you’re at it.
Rant over. For today. And no—I’m not usually this crabby. Maybe I just don’t like being called ‘sweetheart’. Maybe I’ve had it with people trying to out-authenticate each other. Maybe I need a time-out in a Sonoma ashram with a crystal-therapy suppository and feel-good mantra.
Or maybe I just need a drink and good old thrashing with The Muse …