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What You Keep Running Back To

Thanks to Matthew Wiebe

Thanks to Matthew Wiebe

It was the worst song ever written. Overdramatic lyrics, off-key vocals, boring chord progression, flat dynamics.

I wrote it when I was 15.

They were the worst poems ever written. Fragmented themes, corny metaphors, cliches on top of cliches.

I wrote them when I was 15.

It was the first time I realized my identity was more than scoring touchdowns and snatching down rebounds on the basketball court.

I was hooked until I turned 22. That’s when you give up on fantasies and figments. Because 22 is ancient — time to plan for retirement.

In public, I was finished with art forever. But in secret, I met with art when I needed a fix. Don’t worry, my wife was open to it.

Even now, I run back. But not consistently. Just for a quick hit.

Last night I wanted to drink until I died. Luckily we only had 2 hard ciders in the fridge. And I probably wouldn’t have done it anyways — Lara would’ve brought me back to life just kill me again.

I was haunted by this internal Q&A

Q: I created my first pieces of art when I was 15. Where would I be today if had kept pursuing art consistently?

A: I’d have over a decade of work to my name. A decade.

Q: What the hell have I been doing for a decade?

A: Disconnected things. I tried college. Then I worked in the west Texas oil field. Then I was an accountant. Then a freelance web designer. Then a failed entrepreneur. Now a full-time UI/UX designer.

Q: Why did I buy into the adult life that I swore I’d never buy into?

A: Because it’s nice to have money in your pocket.

Q: Fair enough. Then why didn’t I just keep pursuing art on the side?

A: …

Q: Sir?

A: *scurries off into the night*

It’s taken me a decade to figure this out: What you keep running back to is what you’re supposed to be doing.

Except for damaging things, of course.

I keep running back to art — music, photography, writing, storytelling. But not consistently. Not long enough to make a dent. I get scared that I’m wasting my time.

Shouldn’t I be figuring out how to make more money and how to life-hack all the things?

There is something we’re all supposed to create for the world. It’s never exclusively ours though. We were just given the task of discovering it. And yes, we have to set about discovering it. Artists have to do that work.

It’s a terrific curse.

What you keep running back to is what you’re supposed to be doing.