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shavingsRecently an art colleague commented on how productive I am in my studio practice. It’s true that I do get a lot of work done. But it’s also true that this is a fairly recent phenomenon. I sometimes think about this and lament about all the time I spent in the past doing other things. Why didn’t I always get this much work done?

The way this question usually presents itself to me is in the form of self-criticism accompanied by lots of (usually metaphoric) head-slapping. Geez, I’d be so good at this if I’d always worked so hard. Why was I so lazy/distracted/misguided for so long?

I’ll never get any of that time back.

This is true of the hours I wasted on stupid tv programs and bad novels.

It’s true of the time I spent waiting for a bus, standing on lines at the supermarket, and driving in traffic.

It’s true of the time I spent trying to impress people who didn’t really care about me, trying to fit in where I’d never be likely to belong.


But it turns out that those aren’t really the reasons I wasn’t as productive in my twenties and thirties as I am now. After all, I still sit in traffic and watch stupid tv shows and read bad novels.

I think the main reason I didn’t get as much work done when I was younger is that I had to use so much creative energy trying to get my life going. We all have to. It takes work to find a partner, have a child, set up a household. It’s a big investment of energy over a lot of years to find a rhythm of life that lets you work and lets your family function around you.

So I wasn’t wasting time…I was preparing the ground. That’s what we were all doing.

So no more head-slapping (about le temps perdu anyway). Productivity now happens because of all the other stuff that happened first.

Good to know.