Sitting here listening to Duke Ellington on vinyl and today is Day 1 of a 3-month journey. For those who are not aware, I decided to take a 3-month sabbatical from work to focus on my art and more specifically a seven-piece painting series commissioned by the James Weldon Johnson literary estate. Like most people who started working immediately after college, in the seven years I have been a full-time employee, I have never taken more than 10 days off at a time. The idea of 3-months off is totally foreign to my brain, and to be honest, I can't really comprehend it right now.
When I return to work, it will be November 1st... the weather will be different, the leaves will have changed, and I'm sure things at work will have changed as well. Someone I know will have left the firm, someone I don't will have joined, and inevitably someone will probably be sitting in my seat and messing up the Feng Shui of my desk. Change is inevitable. But more importantly, by November - I will have changed. I am very aware of what it is like to be fully dedicated to my "left brain" - as a mechanical engineer by training who works in finance. Honestly, every day is a left brain day. Even the way I approach relationships nowadays is very left-brained in nature - analyzing personalities, computing the risks of being disappointed, etc. Over the last 30 years, I'm quite sure my rebellious right brain was beaten into submission by my more socially acceptable left brain and the many influences that told me being a creative is somehow unrealistic. This will be my first time as an adult (or maybe just ever) dedicating myself to a right brain existence. What does that look like? I have no idea.
How did this happen? As one of many closet artists who was probably born with equal parts analytical and creative - how did I get to this place of imbalance? What would my 10 year-old self say to my 30 year-old self? I think he (10 year-old Dan) would be disappointed. He never believed in being boxed in, having one career, one talent, or even one idea of success. He wanted to be and do everything he possibly could because he believed if he put enough effort into it, he would ultimately be great at it. He viewed himself as an emerging artist, musician, engineer, and heir to the throne of "His Airness" - Sir Michael Jordan. Unfortunately my genes ruled out the last one, but I think the others are still in there somewhere. I think I gave up on creativity when I went to college. I was so focused on achieving, memorizing the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, and trying to land a high-paying job that I lost touch with a major part of what made me unique. I'm glad that over the last few years, I've started to find it again, but it would seem this is only the beginning of that journey.
And so here I am on the first day of a 3-month leave and you would expect that I am excited or relieved to not have to be at work - but I'm not. I actually feel anxious. I feel like a fish out of water - where is my routine? Where are the daily tasks that make me feel productive? Where is my calendar full of meetings that help me manage my time? Being off of work isn't as exciting when you don't actually have to go back any time soon - imagine that. It always takes me a while to switch over to "artist mode" during long weekends - it seems this time is no different. So in the meantime, I'll do what I know to do - listen to music. It always seems to do the trick. Duke seemed to get it. Who names their ensemble the "Spacemen" anyway, unless they are a real unapologetic right-brained kinda guy. Maybe he will impart some wisdom to me.