My father worked as a machinist for General Electric for about 30 years. Several times he had the opportunity to get a promotion and become a supervisor, but turned it down. He had his own shop at GE, and liked to run it his way. He used to tell me to “leave the job at work.”
That advice, so simple for him to give, seems harder and harder to follow these days. Especially if you have a daytime, white-collar job like I have, more and more people are expected to be available to deal with job-related issues any hour, day or night.
In my situation, I am faced with the challenge of juggling a full load of classes with the responsibility as webmaster (content provider) for the University and writing for the University’s marketing department. I am known as being pretty good as a multitasker, and I tend to get a lot done in a short amount of time, albeit sometimes while skipping a few details.
But when your love remains being a creative writer, especially a Christian creative writer, having little time to yourself gives you little time to be creative. And for me, it’s not time that’s lacking. It’s brain power. I am still challenged with the task of contemplating deep thoughts and conveying them in my writing if so much of my brain is taken up with the details of life. Perhaps that’s why poetry seems to thrive best when times are good and poets have someone else around to pay the bills.
There’s such an emphasis in our society on multitasking–doing more, both work and play-wise–that it’s no wonder than conversations, relationships, art and even literature, for the most part, is superficial these days. And yet, I feel that much of this is self-inflicted. I am the one who wants more, who feels he can do more with less. I do more because I want more reward.
Maybe the challenge is not getting out of responsibilities, but in lowering expectations. Art is not about quantity, but about quality. And in order to maintain that quality, maybe we need to be willing to give something up.
Just thinking out loud, I guess.