“How will you live, knowing that you will die?” What?! Yes, death and taxes, two things of which we can be certain.
What does THAT have to do with the business of art?
Well, for me, everything. Because that’s the question I asked just before I decided to commit to becoming a successful full time artist.
How did I come to ask that question? I was toiling away in a cubicle that makes the movie “Office Space” look like a party. I was a project management consultant working at the California Franchise Tax Board. And it was beyond dull. It was seriously depressing.
I remember two stark details. The mound of staples that carpeted the floor removed from millions of tax returns, the evidence of why the returns have “do not staple” printed in the upper left hand corners. And I also recall the image of two slow moving female government employees who were so fat that they had to enter the bathroom stall sideways. Clearly they ate their pain and boredom.
But I digress. I also worked with two wonderful colleagues who were the source of profound inspiration. Both were stage IV breast cancer survivors. And naturally, while working there, we would bitch about our jobs.
But one day I asked one colleague, Angela, “What would you do if you were guaranteed success?” She said, “I’ve always wanted to be an interior designer.” I replied, “You’ve just dodged death. Why don’t you just do it?” Her answer, “Fear,” with a capital ‘F’.
I was stunned. Is following your passion really any scarier than the certainty of death? I realized that continuing to toil in that cubicle, while it was a choice, was certainly scarier than death.
It was in that moment that I decided that I was not going to leave this life without giving it my very best. I was determined to live my best life. This was my responsibility to myself, my purpose.
After I made that decision I stopped bitching about my job and I started working on my escape plan to build a life as a successful artist. I didn’t know exactly how I would do it but I was committed, so I just knew that I would figure it out.
Now answer the question. How will you live, knowing that you will die? And what are you waiting for?
In honor of my friend and inspiration, Angela.