Wasted Time?

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Though often (mis)attibuted to John Lennon, the earliest certain source of the popular quote was by Marthe Troly-Curtin in her novel “Phrynette Married” (1912).

I used this exact opening a couple of weeks ago when I attempted to have a day vegetating. Today I use it response to a complaint.

“God! Every time I call! Why are always writing a story, or working out a poem, or you’re painting something. Pick something, ONE thing and be good, really good, perfect at it. Maybe you could make money off it and stop wasting your time.”

My pithy response: “I write and I paint because I like it and because I have no space for carpentry workshop and a kiln.”

Oh, there was so much to unpack with that loaded statement and her not understanding why I was offended by it.

What is with limiting a person to one form of expression? The whole pick one thing and be good/perfect at it nonsense, is in a word nonsense. Dion Sanders and Bo Jackson excelled in both baseball and football in their heydays. Venus and Serena Williams are both phenomenal tennis players and wonderful clothing designers. Several of Hollywood and UK actors also excel in other creative outlets. It’s Art. You know that thing like beauty is in the eye of? So who determines what’s good or God help us perfect creatively anyway? Who determines its clock value? Is the pursuit of a second passion for pleasure only limited to those those who can afford it? If it’s not making money, it is waste of time?

As I understand it Art students study other art to learn what’s good. Though they both use pointillism, no one is going to confuse a Seurat with a Lichtenstein, but they’re both good. Rembrandt, Warhol, Monet, Max, Michelangelo, Haring, Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollock, are all amazing artists, not one looks like the other and none of them did what they did to be “good.” The artists painted what they wanted, the way they wanted – period. That others cottoned on and made some of them renowned during their lifetimes was a lucky bonus. Some of the names mentioned were not famous, until after their deaths. It likely wasn’t perfect, to some of them. It may not have even been “good” to them, but you know what it was? Good enough to make them happy or they tried again until they were. They did it for they were inspired, because it pleased them. I am 10,000 percent sure someone had said to each them at some point “stop wasting time.”

Why must damn near everything in life sans breathing, and bathroom functions, can only be considered worthy of one’s time if it can also potentially line one’s wallet? Stop that nonsense! Elizabeth Barret Browning, Alex Haley, e.e. cummings, Arthur Conan Doyle, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Octavia Butler, Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, Andrew Wilmot, Amanda Gorman: none of them wrote their very first stories and poems, because they were out to make money, they wrote because they had stories to tell. It just so turned out that eventually others liked the stories as well. The rest is the luck, ill or otherwise, of the draw. But we know their names in the first place solely because they had a story they needed to tell. The story got told. It was not a waste of time.

We blog, and some of have regular followers, but the mass majority of us are not, nor have any intent to be “influencers.” Still, we blog because we have stories to tell, in words or in art or both.

I create because it pleases ME. The moment it becomes something I have to do to make money, it becomes a job. And knowing me – it will no longer be something I enjoy. I create the ways I do because I want to. I’m not trying to be good, I am having fun. That others enjoy it is wonderful, but is never the impetus for me to type out pixels or pick up my pencil or brush. It is always time well spent, even if I hate the result. On the outside I am an adult exuberantly expressing my creativity through mixed media. On the inside I’m a four-year-old happily making a mess scribbling and finger painting. Ask any preschooler…

…That is never a waste of time.

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Slice of Life – Tuesday Writing Challenge
Two Writing Teachers

24 Hours

This is less a slice and more a serving of the whole cake as this past Saturday I participated in the 24HourProject a 24 hour photography where every hour you post at least one picture to your Instagram, so it’s all in real time. To prep for the event I took Friday off to run errands in the morning and sleep in the afternoon. Well, I got my errands taken care of, but naturally sleep was elusive. Having been up since 8am, at 10:30pm it was a lost cause. I, along with the Stanley to my Ollie (what another fine challenge you’ve gotten me into!), my running buddy GirlGriot, met at midnight in Times Square to begin.  As luck would have it, it was a cold, windy and rainy midnight, but in for a penny – in for a 24 Hours, troopers that we are, it did not deter us.

Together and separately, we ran amok in the City That Never Sleeps and photographed the people and things that captured our eye.

Some of my favorites of the 24 Hours –

Clockwise from top left:

  • 1:00am – East Side of 42nd Street looking into the infinity of the lights of Times Square on the West Side.
  • 1:30am – A play of shadows and light, I love how glittery the wet pavement looks and that this not a black and white photo.
  • 2:54am – Catching the middle of the night magic of Macy’s Department store as it maintain the massive floral arrangements in its annual Flower Show.
  • 11:02pm – One of several times throughout the day I used a clock as a timestamp. The other two were digital, this was the first analog clock I came across.
  • 12:13pm – The Birdman of Washington Square Park who would have made Alfred Hitchcock smile.
  • 9:27pm – We come upon this lovely young man offering “Free Poetry”. Poetry typed on a manual typewriter in the spur of the moment. Give him a subject, a smile, a donation because come on how could I not offer him something for his work, wait a few minutes and voila personalized prose.

In the middle of this I also attended a Cookie Crawl with friends. Yes, it’s like a pub crawl, but hopping around to various sweet shops/bakeries. You know how you have a wish list of eateries you’d like try? Imagine going to several of them in one day and you get it. NYC has a plethora of such small businesses to tempt the sweet tooth and we visited a few of them. Let’s just say the repeated consumption of sweets was just what this this slowly tiring body needed.  GirlGriot and I met up later in the day to attend a free improv show. We had a little under three hours left when we ran into the subway poet pictured above.

His finished impromptu prose for me:

Subway Poetry

I can hear you
I can hear —

I can dance
I feel the native
animal inside me

…oh, you were
saying some
one was
sangin’ summer fever

a heel drummer
an unshackled rattling

hello hey
let’s stop talkin’

we’ve made it to the
let this old body
feel young

The young man would not give his signature so I’ll call him Eeyore as this was the key chain that sat on his table as he worked.

My last official shot of the night?

I captured this little guy hanging out on a staircase while waiting for the train, one of many such whimsical bronze figures which comprise the “Life Underground” sculptures by Tom Otterness dotting the platform and steps of that station.

From waking up at 8am Friday, I finally hit my bed some 41 hours later. It was the most exercise my legs have had since fall. Advil and I were best friends when I finally crawled out of bed on Sunday. It’s Tuesday and while my calves have finally stopped their cussin’, they’re still pretty miffed. Ow, but so worth it.

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Slice of Life Writing Challenge : Two Writing Teachers