I am so not going to spend time and love on this week’s post, loyal reader. Sorry, but this is my official holiday week and if I don’t give myself I proper break then I will go into full crazydude mode. Trust me. I know myself. I have been piloting a giant me-suit for as long as I can remember.
Here’s hoping you remember to give yourself a break every now and then. I think creative people are particularly shit at this. We (look, I realise using the collective pronoun is twee and inflammatory, as if ‘creative types’ are this happy amorphous hivemind of nonconformists, but stick with me – what I mean ‘many of us, much of the time’, or even ‘me, and perhaps you, friend’ but ‘we’ is less clunky) like to think of ourselves as lazy, sometimes with a rebellious inflection, sometimes as a symptom of helpless immaturity/self-sabotage. But we’re not, really.
Yes, we procrastinate, but that’s partly because we keep such crappy hours. It’s partly because we never give ourselves a break. Whenever we’re not working on a project, we feel like we’re slacking. We are constantly, viscerally aware of our own mortality, of a shrinking window in which we can affect the world, of the opportunity cost that comes with every piece of leisure.
Because we think of these things all the time, and because we’re constantly castigating ourselves for not working harder, for not working better, for not excelling, we get knackered. So we contrive, consciously or unconsciously, to skive. We wriggle out of commitments, we surf the net, we dawdle, we neglect to organise our diaries and forget things, all in an effort to give ourselves the break we, deep down, know we deserve. Then we observe this behaviour in ourselves and conclude that we are inveterate malingerers.
Look, nobody hates neo-flaneurs and the bone idle upper-middle-class tossers who advocate laziness more than me. ‘Hey guys, let’s all quit the rat race and dead-head some azalias.’ Fuck you, you smug, entitled wanker. Try expounding your sophomoric philosophy of opting out of the oppressive Protestant work ethic to a single mum of three, then print the two word answer she gives you, alongside the photo of your freshly-broken nose. I promise we’ll all take the rest of the week off in celebration.
All I’m saying is, rating your worth in terms of what you produce – whatever field you work in – results in a hugely constricted view of your own humanity. I have done it to myself, and what’s worse, I’ve done it to other people. I still do, though I’m not always conscious of it. Who doesn’t hear a stunning musician or belly-laugh at a great comedian and think ‘wow, what a dude/dudette/other person of excellence’? It seems a reasonable enough response.
But I don’t think it’s fair, or logical, or constructive to judge people by their creative contributions. Babies make fuck-all creative contribution to the world. Does that mean they’re somehow less valuable as humans? I mean, sure, if I were promoting a comedy night I wouldn’t book an all-baby lineup. What am I saying? I totally would. Don’t tell me it wouldn’t sell out. Oh my gosh I’m a genius. What I’m saying is… babies rule? Is that too controversial?
When I, or dear friends, have suffered from depression, a common feeling is ‘oh, I’m useless’ or ‘oh, I’m a failure’. Listen. If you never create a thing in your life, or if you do, but all of those things are rubbish things – shapeless, grey vases, ghost stories where every character is called ‘Goef’, egg songs – your worth as a human being is not one iota less than the greatest composer, the finest ballerina, the most accomplished orator ever to walk the Earth. Your humanity is not something you earn, not something you have to fight for. It is a birthright. It is all of our birthrights.
Those are my beliefs anyway. You are welcome to yours, and if you want to debate it, I’m happy to have that discussion. But make sure you understand the assumptions your position rests upon, next time you casually dismiss yourself as an idiot, or lazy, or remark you ‘need’ to do more work. Beware. Sometimes self-deprecation involves collateral damage. And anyway, why would you want to put yourself down? You’re a funky dude/dudette/other person of excellence. Treat yourself as such.
And with that in mind, I’m going to go chill out in the sun. Sorry for the mushy stuff. See you on Monday.