Letter I is for the itinerant life of the artist.
A to Z entries: My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post. Names always changed, events always real.
~ Letter H was for adrenaline’s High, so now the high life of the…intinerant. ~
I don’t hate Mondays. People with regular jobs do.
For me, Mondays are a reset button, the rebirth of hope and possibility. On Monday morning, I get to pretend I’ve gone back to the beginning and erased all the ways in which I screwed up the previous week. All the chores I didn’t begin, all the errands I didn’t run, all the exercise I didn’t get.
My failing is also one of my strengths: I simply can’t get myself to do the things I don’t want. Work a daily regular job. Cook. Go to the doctor. Sleep when I want to be awake. Wake up when want I to be asleep. But being incapable of doing what I don’t want is the same mechanism that prevents me from settling, selling out or otherwise compromising my personal principles.
While it’s exhausting to manage the unruly child within me, this brat inside is the only thing that can hold me back. I have ties to nothing else – no job, no kids, no pets, not even plants. I get up and go wherever, whenever. A few years ago, I spent more time traveling than in my own bed, putting twenty thousand road-trip miles on my car.
I have designed my life this way.
But there’s a price: I’m always broke. As an actor, or rather, as a person who auditions regularly, I might book a gig, work for a day and be set up for a few months. I might. More likely, I’ll be forced to pick up odd jobs here and there as long as the brat inside is willing to stomach it. As for the rest of it – undiscovered writer, hatchling filmmaker – I work my ass off. For free.
When I’m involved in a project, whether editing a short film or writing, my world begins and ends at the computer. I don’t sleep, eat or communicate with the outside world. After sixteen hours of eyestrain and tweaking my back, I peel myself away, my mind already racing with the pickup point for tomorrow, which would begin five hours from then.
But nobody accepts that we work hard, or at all, if we’re not making money. And when we’re my age, it doesn’t count to anyone that we’re back in school. They all want to know, when are we going to get our shit together? Hell, even we want to know.
A paper-pusher who Facebooks on the company computer all day is taken more seriously than us. At night they go home and watch reality shows, and on the weekends, they go to the mall and spend their paycheck. But if we mention we take rock-climbing or drumming classes, we’re considered wandering, aimless souls.
We are itinerants.
Yet if it weren’t for the “always broke” part, itinerant me wouldn’t change a thing about my choices. The question, What would you spend your time doing if you found out you had one day to live? always stumps me because if I were dying, I’d do pretty much everything I’m already doing, other than saying my goodbyes. I have to be compelled to do anything I do, so I don’t have to be dying to do exactly what I want.
I want to be the auteur of my entire life as well as my art. Until I get there, I live my life like that anyway.
Still, at the end of the week, I’m laden with the guilt of all that I neglect for my art: Exercise, people, grocery shopping, coming up with rent, a balanced life.
“You sit down and write every day? I can’t imagine the amount of discipline that takes.” Someone said recently, and I chuckled; it’s the only thing that doesn’t take discipline for me. Under every other circumstance, I have to arm wrestle with the brat inside. I can’t even get a bowl washed out without an inner temper tantrum.
And the bratty itinerant? She gets a lot of breaks from hard work. It’s good because I get to go along for the ride with her, literally. But of course, it’s I, rather than the brat, who gets saddled with the guilt, and thinks, Somewhere, someone will judge me for being unemployed and taking this airplane ride instead of bagging fries at McDonald’s.
You see, sometimes your friend invites you to a “sightseeing excursion” and you show up to learn he meant on a plane. And he’s the pilot. Then he hands you a whole city at night, like a tray of crushed jewels. (He’s not the Perfect Man for nothing.)
Turns out, the person who judges a jobless screwup such as myself most for flying over Los Angeles like it’s a stroll to the corner, is me. After I relayed the airplane story, the following dialogue took place:
Person Number One: “I need some friends like that!”
Me: “And it’s possible you’d deserve it more than me.”
Person Number Two: “Life isn’t about deserving. It’s about enjoying.”
Me: “I’d like both.”
I truly would.
To some, “getting my shit together,” means getting a job. To me, it means leading a balanced life. And yes, sometimes, that entails a regular job. At least for a while. But I still wouldn’t hate Mondays.
Monday is the first day of the workweek for normal, functioning adults, whom I could look at as a reminder of everything I’m not. Monday itself could be a reminder of all that I’ve left undone. But in the end, I live by my own rules and see Mondays as a brand new chance for the itinerant to tend to things the right way.
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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