Everything in moderation. Good advice for your diet, and good advice for life. After 12 years in the business world, (8 years as a graphic designer, 4 years managing a group of them), I’ve given up one “ladder” for another, and gained a lot in the process.
Margaret Lobenstine’s book The Renaissance Soul provides some great insight into life planning for those of us, like Ben Franklin or DaVinci, who are lured by the Sirens’ call of varied and diverse interests (unlike those whose lives are driven by one singular passion or career path).
I honed a great skill in college. No, not the ability to multi-task, per se. Rather, like a Chinese circus plate spinner, I mastered the balancing act of working on multiple things one right after the other. Sort of bouncing around between projects – that’s my style. Working out problems in the back of my mind while my attention focuses elsewhere. Most inspirations come to me in the car, shower or while distracted by something else. I’m also plagued with finding more excitement in what’s next than what’s now. Maybe crazy to some, this lifestyle works just fine for me.
October of my senior year taught me a great lesson about dealing with all this diversity. At the time I was juggling an 18 credit course load (one more class than “average”); serving as President and Instructor for our school’s Judo Club; Treasurer of the French Club; Writer/Actor/Cameraman/etc… for a weekly local access TV show; and Cartoonist & Advertising Manager for the college paper. I also had a part-time job. (Oh, and no, I wasn’t single.)
Halfway through the fall semester, spreading myself so thin finally caught up with me. I got sick – real sick. I finally understood my father’s age-old advice, “work smarter, not harder.” So I eased up, but didn’t give anything up. I sorted out my priorities and focused my energies where they counted, lessening my attentions on some other personal pursuits.
Eventually I graduated on time, with college honors, and moved on to the real world. My graphic arts portfolio landed me a job in the newspaper industry doing what I went to school for. Bonus! And in my spare time I did some personal projects, managing to get into a couple art shows to sell some of my work – cards, paintings and photography.
Yet, while plugging away at the 9-5, I missed and yearned for the diversity of my college days.
In time, some things I’d always dreamt of – marriage, home-ownership and parenthood – happened. But buying our 1880’s farmhouse opened me up to new interests and a heretofore undiscovered skillset. I’ve found that I truly enjoy the restoration process, and also unexpectedly found myself with the desire to make furniture and other similar projects.
Perhaps this is in response to all these years working on 2 dimensional, intangible projects. Or perhaps it’s more like an unconscious need to slow-down the work pace that comes from the quick turnaround and immediate gratification of the computer world. In any case, it’s definitely a yin to the yang (or yang to the yin).
Where does this leave me now? Well, thanks to The Renaissance Soul I find myself happily faced with (at least) 2 part-time jobs. To start with, I’ve stepped off the proverbial ladder, but remain on staff in a part-time capacity at my 9-5. And I’ll also be helping my father out with his construction/renovation business. He left the corporate world a few years back, and has kept himself busy running a one-man show. It’s time to step in and see where we can take this traveling “show” together.
This plan should still leave me ample time to fit in a little of everything (whether for fun and/or profit) and still make ends meet. But not too tired and frantic to do everything else I and/or my family want to do come the weekend.
You see, I don’t want to be a father/husband/etc. in absentia. But, in addition to an attentive family man, I also want to be a Creative on many fronts: a graphic designer, carpenter, home renovator/preservationist, woodworker, writer, cook, artist and artisan. And now, thanks to the innately learned (and book-reinforced) lessons of my Rennaisance Soul, I have the courage and freedom to realize it all.
Yes, I can have everything. If I take things a little at a time, I know I can have all that I want. Moderation is the key.