I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
I am notorious for over-booking. At least once a week, plans will overlap with other friends and I look like the bad friend for having to postpone or cancel at the last minute. We all have that friend in our group and that friend is me. It’s never intentional. Mostly, it is just a combination of the lazies and never writing anything down. But how it really comes about is because I believe what people tell me.
See, I don’t have a traditional job. I write for a living. Meaning, I can do it at noon or midnight, surrounded by cats or screaming lunatics in a coffeeshop. My friends know this. My family knows this. And most of you know this. The problem with this is people automatically assume that since my job makes me so little money and that it is as flexible as one can get, that I must have all the free time in the world. I hear the phrase, “Psssh, oh what do you have to do today? It’s not like you’re busy.” followed by some light-hearted chuckles and maybe a side of condescending disdain, at least a few times a week. And that is one of the few benefits of this lifestyle. I generally have the time to catch up with friends and see people at all hours of the day. So when someone asks to get brunch or coffee or dinner, I almost always say yes because I believe what everyone tells me – that I have all the time in the world and have no real obligations, so why wouldn’t I be able to: help them move, dive them to the airport, paint their kitchen, help them write a resume, or just meet for dinner.
A few of you out there reading this are creative types. Meaning, someone out there employs you for your imagination and unique perspective of the world. Not because you are a replaceable cog in a machine but because of your talent and vision. And if you are one of those creative types, you know that it is both a blessing and a curse. One where you are filled with warm contentment knowing you are on the right course for the journey of your life – but also doomed to know that if you fail at your passion the only thing left is to fall back into the soul-sucking machine of drudgery.
People like us operate differently. We have uplifting moment of inspiration followed by weeks of crippling self-doubt. An unrelenting cyclone of ups and downs. The kind of instability that makes the fry shift at McDonalds look appealing if only because no one expects anything from you but perfect golden french fries that you can’t possibly ruin unless you don’t pay attention to the timer.
People like us are always working. Whether is it while we are sitting behind a computer or walking down the street or sipping on a latte or while lathering up a loofa during our shower. Ideas don’t come on a schedule and looking busy rarely means we are ARE busy. Our busy moments come when we least expect them. They sneak up on us when we should be doing other more socially important things – like brunch or painting kitchens or writing resumes. We live our lives permanently on-call and if that means we have to roll over in bed at 4am to furiously type the words that need to be typed, so be it. And it can be a heavy burden because most people don’t understand us or how we work. And I hold nothing against them. I actually envy their lives. I wish I could punch in and punch out, go home and turn off. I wish I could do what they do. But the blessing curse is always on, stealing time whenever it is feeling especially cruel.
I guess I just want people to understand that just because our moments aren’t spent making money doesn’t mean they are any less valid than your moments. That at the end of our journey, while we our light is slowly fading out in some intensive care unit, your accomplishments won’t save you. Your gold watch, your degrees, the books you’ve written, the people you’ve loved – nothing will save you. And all we can do is fade into the comfort of knowing what we have left behind. And our legacy is how we spend our moments. Whether that is working all day, or spending time with our kids. Getting brunch with friends, or inspiring someone to live a healthier life.
Our time is the only real currency in this world. But how we spend it is our legacy.