Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Integrative skills

Just listened to a thought provoking 21st Century Buddhism podcast. It was about the problem of integrating the 3 aspects of life - spirituality, creativity and paying the bills.

I'm never sure if I am fortunate or not, but I come from a very creative family. Which made this podcast particularly interesting for me. Integrating the 3 aspects is something that I've never mastered, and something that has caused my life a lot of pain. The podcast was based on a live talk and there was plenty of audience participation. What was evident was that i am not alone in this struggle - there are plenty people in New York also battling with it every day.

In true Buddhist fashion, the speaker didn't offer any solutions. (Note to blog: THERE ARE NO ANSWERS, ONLY CHOICES remember). He just explored the problem and highlighted some of the tensions between capitalism and altruism and the artist's life. Most of all, for me anyway, he confirmed that it is a very, VERY big challenge in our modern life. But he had no illusions about going to sit in a cave and live on berries and roots. This is the world we are born into, he said, this is the world we need to negotiate. Fact: In 21st century planet earth - you have to pay rent. Period. (unless you are extremely fortunate)

What he did allude to was that perhaps the highest creative, holisitic and practical skill is the art of successfully integrating creativity, spirituality and making a buck. A higher skill than the other three skills. A Meta-skill.

BPG don't have that skill. My life up until now has moved in huge waves. 5 years almost exclusive focus on making money. 5 years following more philosophical, creative bents. As I sit here RIGHT NOW, this is the dilemma that is facing me. I've recently rediscovered my major passion in photography and I just wanna be out there taking photos. And the more this creative passion grows, the more bland my "job" appears, which, by necessity, is still involved in the conservative, corporate financial field. And it tears me up. Guilt, anger, depression - they all have some roots in this Great Divide.

Being BiPolar aggravates this problem majorly.

  1. I'm an ALL or NOTHING guy. In theory the solution is easy - partition your life into Hobby and Work segments. No can do. The problem i find is that in my life these 2 mindspaces are so far apart that I can't concentrate sufficiently on either on a daily, basis. Working flat out for 2 months on one, and then 2 months on the other would be way more suited (again - In theory) to me, but that modus oprandi is not suited to the commercial world.

  2. So the next solution you say is to start some kind of business that overlaps with your interests. Compromise. No can do. I'm a purist - the ALL or NOTHING guy remember. Creativity is about playfulness. Take music, you PLAY music, not WORK music. The minute you gotta make a buck out of your creativity it takes a whole new direction, and (in my case anyways) banishes all traces of creativity.

  3. The other way BiPolar affects me is that when I'm depressed most creativity dries up. And when it does come it never lasts for too long. So this kind of makes you wanna seize it when it does come along (make play, while the fun shines). Milk every second of blissful passion out of it. Screw the job when it does arrive.
Like I said: no answer to getting out of this one. And that will remain the biggest challenge for the rest of my days - to try somehow integrate my diverse interests. That's the one that will require the MOST creativity, the MOST pragmatic skills, and the MOST spiritual wisdom.

Long blog post today. That podcast really struck a nerve with me.


  1. I'm always willing to invest a great deal of energy on whatever I feel is more emotionally rewarding at the moment.

    For about 4 years my business was right there at the top of the list, which was very beneficial. But in the past year or so, I've discovered another emotionally rewarding outlet.

    Work continued as usual, but I wasn't putting in my 100% anymore. The output decreased proportionally, which reduced the emotional reward which, in turn, decreased my motivation even more. Hmmmm.

    My solution at the moment is to require equal amounts of time spent on work and pleasure from myself, in hopes that it will make work more pleasurable as things perk up. And if they don't, I will at least continue to remain solvent.

  2. no possibility of making money being a photographer?


Recent Posts