Day 24: People

The biggest challenge in creating art is getting started, and doing it every day. I find myself liking the idea of doing things every day — to build upon the day before — but after a long day of work and nearly an hour driving home, I’m emotionally and physically drained. This lack of energy makes me angry. It stirs up my insides, because not only am I unsatisfied; I don’t even have the energy to satisfy myself with whatever little projects I could take on at the end of the day.

The last month has exhausted me, because I feel like I’m squeezing out every little ounce of energy to write, to practice, to learn — and, of course, to work. The balance doesn’t seem right. When we talk about balance, it’s often about time. But what we never really talk about is where we spend our emotions and where we have our frustrations — and where we put our thought.

But I ground myself often, because I know I’m about as lucky as they get. I have a job that requires some technicaly skill, but also a significiant amount of creativity — and the result of my work isn’t inconsequential. Even so, I often think about what other jobs would make me happy. I talk to other journalists often about what kind of jobs they would take if they left the industry, and most of us are stumped. But even so, most of us aren’t fully satisfied. There’s a lot of frustration.

Thinking about the occupations in this world, I realize that people are often treated as expendable. When you’re not, it’s called “leverage.” So that means the default is that, if someone else can do the job for about as much as you, then you can be let go. Of course, that’s why unions exist. And that’s why some people particularly value loyalty. But even so, I can’t imagine what it feels like to be a cashier at Walmart, because even if you’re a wonderful person who makes the workplace an awesome place, you can be replaced. Maybe it wasn’t like that in the old days, when the reach of a job advertisement stopped at the local newspaper. But now, if you want to find someone to work for $11 an hour, you can find that person without much trouble. The value of people we place on individual people seems to be decreasing as we’re able to see more people in our purview. I hear stories from older people about how they saw a girl and knew they were “the one” — and they pursued that person until they agreed to spend the rest of their life with them. But when you can download an app and merely swipe across the screen to see another person you might want to love, then basic economics says people aren’t a scarce asset anymore.

So as I think about this, I realize how important it is to tell people that they are important. There’s a Mr. Rogers song called “It’s you I like” that I never really understood until recently. But it goes like this:

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear,
It’s not the way you do your hair–
But it’s you I like.
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you–
Not the things that hide you,
Not your toys–
They’re just beside you.

But it’s you I like–
Every part of you,
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like,
It’s you yourself,
It’s you, it’s you I like.

I can’t say for sure that people were valued more in the past, but I can say that I like the world this song paints. I think if I lived in that world, then I would be less exhausted. It makes me want to create that world.

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