Where there is joy in our work, there is God. That said, times like these invite us to find balance by embracing acceptance. Things will never again be exactly as they were. Living in the present is so much healthier than getting tangled up in the past or future, and the present is the only moment we can truly control. That is where we LIVE. Embracing this truth helps me prioritize those things that are rewarding in some way, either for my career, for my well-being, or for the sake of someone else I am looking to help. This means that I must prioritize time to write one of the articles coming due, or a chapter for my next book, or a song arrangement for an impending concert. This is the hardest responsibility of all. Saying not yet to the work I see around me, like laundry and dusting, or the emails piling up in my account (which are generally not urgent if they arrived in the past hour or so) will help me to spend the needed time on my ACTUAL JOB the act of creating. Until I have acknowledged that being a creative spirit IS my job, other distractions will ultimately prevent me from making progress on that song, book, or conference presentation.
Routines tend to help some people accomplish their goals. One routine I have tried to stick with is designating blocks of time each day to devote to various tasks. Another method is simply to decide that I will spend any two hours of the workday writing, one hour updating my website, one hour practicing, and one hour planning a conference presentation (for example). This allows my artist the time she needs to get creative work done while embracing her need for variety and freedom. I find that I have to vary not only my daily schedule, but also my work approach in order to keep my creative artist engaged. This is not an easy task, as any successful artist knows.
Artists are aware that there are two paradigms of time we can inhabit. Living according to chronos, (by calendars, clocks, and deadlines) is what the world generally expects us to do. We turn in work by a certain date, meet for lunch at a specified time, and keep to a carefully scheduled routine dictated by the clock. A more eternal, inspired outlook of time is kairos. In kairos, we lose track of time; find ourselves ‘in the zone’ as we write, create, or practice; enjoy the timelessness of a romantic evening; and lay down our stress and strain that is chronos-driven. Chronos is heavy traffic making us late for an appointment. Kairos is hours spent hiking or beachcombing that felt like only a few minutes. In kairos we accept the gift of the present moment and stretch it to encompass a lovely interlude of creativity, unrushed time with loved ones making memories, or spiritual refreshment. The artist’s challenge is to find ways to balance chronoswith kairos‘ we must have kairos to create, but we often have to operate within the world’s imposed deadlines. Learning to meditate can be a helpful tool toward cultivating kairosin our daily round. Carving out undistracted time to do the creative work while the world is knocking on my door represents the single most challenging task for this artist/writer. Only when I give myself permission to let chronos slide a bit can my artist feel free to inhabit kairos long enough to finish those creative tasks.
Balance will always be elusive to the busy person. Our lives may perpetually seem out of balance to us, while to others, we may possess poise and wisdom as we wend our path through a variety of responsibilities. Most important is to give yourself permission to do the work first that will bring the most lasting benefit to you. This is rarely the ‘urgent’ work which is lying in your email box or voicemail (since you turned off your phone during your creativity session). It is more likely the book, song, or invention you would create if only you had the time…