The Dream Life...

by Roy Mackey

Living the dream,, steel sculpture, steel art, roy mackey

Apparently Life Sucks...

especially if you are an artist

     Below is another one of my tedious long winded monologues. If you are bored and looking for the dream life it may give you some clues you can use to get there.

The Dream Life

     You know at the start of the New Year I asked the Mothership to give me a brain tune up. After all they are always bragging about how much they can improve the human brain. They offered to give it a shot but later said they could not do much as it was wore out, mostly due to lack of use. Apparently the only time any part of the body wears out is when you don't use it enough. The more you don't use it the more it wears out. Once it wears out it gets harder to use that part… whether it's a brain, muscle or joints. The process can be turned around it is just you have to work at it slowly. A lot of runners out the "Blow out" their knees not from over use but instead from lack of use and then try to go back to lots of use again. They just don't do it slowly enough so that the body had time to rebuild. They did recommend that I learn to read as that is good exercise for the brain and then maybe in a few years or so I will start noticing some changes.

     They also gave me some other advice and that was to start appreciating my life a hell of a lot more than I have been doing. They went on to say that the number one cause of frustration in peoples lives is nothing more than lack of appreciation for what they already have. Easy for them to say as they flash drive themselves around the universe on high sugar diets. Just the same it did get me thinking thus I decided to kick that concept around some. After all what did I have to lose?

     You know in truth they were really onto something. As an artist, it sometimes gets a little to easy to complain about life. Going on and on about lacka food, lacka fun, lacka this, lacka that. Having your life hanging by a thread made up from fluke sales, generosity of family and friends, VISA and other miracles is I admit a little unnerving to say the least. I have often wondered how the hell I keep doing it and what for. Maybe I was trying to pull a Van Gogh or something. Either way it was getting a little tiring. In fact at one point I was getting really sick of it so their ideas seemed to be worth kicking around.

         So what if things get a little tight by artist standards... or totally beyond any possible form of hope by normal standards. It did not mean that things were actually all that bad. Thus in a blinding flash of inspiration I figured it's time to follow their advice, quit cry-babying and do something different for a change. Maybe show a little appreciation like they said. In fact I may even make it a new years resolution. After all I am sure this is something I could get tired of quickly thus it would qualify as a resolution.

     Anyway I started telling myself that every life has its good and bad points. That's partly what makes it so much fun. It often depends which parts we are focusing on that determines how we feel about our life in general.  In fact I was once talking to someone who was longing for her artist days gone by. She was getting all melancholic and I could tell was on the road straight down to hell right across the street from our studio. After a bit I told her yes the artist life is great. Except for of course… and then threw up a few reminders she would surely know about or remember. In seconds she hit the brakes, snapped back into reality and back basking in the glories of her stable monthly paycheck. It was very interesting for me to observe for sure and likely something that I needed. You see it all depends on which end your life you are focusing on that determines how you feel about it.

     You know over the last couple of years I have been selling off a lot of useless excess junk tools etc I had accumulated for my "vintage tool" installation. In the process of course have been dragging a lot of people through my welding area and giving them my enthusiastic but tedious monologue about vintage tools, art etc. After awhile I started to notice that a lot of people would look around for a bit and then wide eyed tell me that I am living the dream!! In my mind I would immediately think "dream alright… more like a bloody nightmare!!" After awhile I started to wonder what the hell was wrong with all these weirdos and how come there were so many of them? I then started to wonder if it was maybe me that was missing the point. Shortly after that I got stuck in traffic on the freeway. That was when it finally hit me. Maybe… just maybe I am living more of the dream than I realize.

     Thus I thought, for a change I should vent some of the positive points of being a lazy no good for nothing artist. After all who hasn't heard enough cheezy whining, along with ungrateful and tedious monologues from starving artists already. So I think I am going to get into the positive aspects of life here at the ARC welding useless things. Which leads me right into one of the first things I really love about being an artist. I get to sit around all bloody day turning perfectly good steel into absolutely useless things! Who gets to do that? Who gets to spend endless hours dreaming up more and more useless things to make that serve almost no purpose to a majority of the population. Things that most, but not all, find impossible to justify. Things that are overpriced and purely reflective and subliminal. Things that maybe make you think but don't tell you what to think. Things similar to sunsets that really serve no purpose other than to maybe/hopefully calm the mind and help those so inclined to escape from the rigors of their daily grind. Expensive things, that unlike sunsets, can be taken into your possession for as long as you have the cash, vision, heart and a physical body able to possess them. Work that hopefully anchors you and your soul to the ground and helps keep you centered and in tune with who YOU are. A, meaningless to most, anchor. Nothing but art, and I get to make it day in and day out… like I said as long as VISA, fluke sales and generosity from family and friends allow!!! It really is a pretty sweet life.

     For me it is also total freedom as I can't get it wrong. I may not like the piece I just finished but I can't get it wrong. How could I it is art? Someone might just love it. Sure some critics who miss the point completely might say it is not Rodanish or Chamberlainish enough. But their opinion really means nothing. At least to me and my life. Sure their two bits could maybe lead to more sales maybe but who cares? I am already living the dream life. There are a lot of cash rich millionaires who long for the time and freedom to fuck their day awhile like some aimless kid playing in a junk yard. The real people who buy my art don't need the opinion of some poor critic tying to eek out a living criticizing what people love to create. Not that I am saying anything against art critics here. After all if they love what they do then they could very well be leading their dream life also. Only they know for sure if they really love it. For me though I am living the dream life and would not trade it for anything. Actually I am not living "the" dream I am living "my" dream. In fact this is a dream that I started back in early grade school. My vintage tool installation I will be posting on my website will be getting more into that.

     Now I admit making ends meet between art sales can be tough but hey have you ever spent an hour in rush hour? That really sucks big time and most real people deal with that almost every day like it's a piece of cake!! Now that is what I call tough!!! I got caught in it once, awhile back, for about a half hour. After that I wanted to issue medals for all those people who deal with that every day, day in and day out. I don't have a clue how the hell they do it. It would take a better man than me to handle it. Which could be why I wanted to become an artist in the first place. I could not bear being so miserable like those I knew stuck in traffic all the time.

     Other people tell me they could not handle the insecurity artists endure. That has always mystified me. If you get a high paying job it often isn't too long before you end up buying a high costing house and car and then have to hope every month that you get to keep that high paying job.  Most try to reassure themselves that they don't have to worry as mankind will always need their companies "wagon wheels". Sure it works but in today's high paced fast changing world that thought tends to be a little foolish. Especially after the 2008 stock market fiasco. 

     I read somewhere that NONE or almost none anyway of ALL the fortune five hundred companies from twenty years ago are still in business!! So really how secure is that high paying job anyway? It may seem like it today but statistically it is not. Sure as an artist I might not be able to afford all the warm winter getaways I want but you have to realize that I also don't "need" them near as desperately. When you wake up every day...,when you want..., to do what you want..., for as long as you want..., playing with things you love…, making things you love to make then holidays are not near as vital. If I sailed morning rush hour five days a week I would need a hell of a lot more…"relaxation" also. The trouble is often holidays for an artist or anyone loving their work (which could even be a corporate lawyer for that matter) are kind of like putting your passion on the shelf while you get away to do something that other people really "NEED" to do.  Now I am not saying holidays are not fun or that I don't enjoy them but I do know they are not near as vital to me as they are to those fighting morning rush hour to get to jobs they hate.

     The problem with it all is that a lot of people fail to realize that it takes a lot of money to soothe the negative feelings gained from doing something you don't love. In fact it works out to about ten percent more money than you earn. Don't believe me? Then tally up your debts and you will see it is true. Sure the money you earn may buy you back some of your soul but it can never fill the emptiness in your heart from the pain of selling out to the wrong love or passion. Every day that goes by makes it worse as the moments of your life tick away. I read Picasso once was quoted as saying "why would I stop doing something I love like art in order to entertain people" or something like that anyway. He was obviously loving his art.

     You see the world does not need any more "desperately seeking boomers". There are a lot of them out there right now that sold their love or passion in life for money, status or position. Now they are desperately trying to gobble up as much life as they can as quick as they can using that money, status or position. The trouble is it never works. You see getting twice as much stuff that you don't want will never satisfy your cravings for something you do or at least did want. Sure it stimulates the economy but not the soul of the stimulator. The only thing that will satisfy you is partaking in your dream. You know, the dream you spent a lifetime making up excuses as to why you could not do it then. Now all these years later and you are still not getting any closer to starting it. This may suck I know but it's true. Oh and the old standard excuse that you are too old now to do it does not cut it anymore either. You could get famous on youtube for being the oldest grandmother or grandfather who plays heavy metal on stage!

     Somewhat relating to all this is some stuff I learned from the mothership. They told me once that partying is just a soother for those who hate their jobs, lives or careers etc. The only "real" partiers out there are those that absolutely love their jobs, life and careers. Those that would do their job even if they did not get paid. For all the rest partying it is just a painkiller for selling out their life to the highest bidder. More of a medicinal coping mechanism than real partying. In fact they told me that very often the loudest person at any party is almost always the one needing medicine and soothing the most. Therefore that person is the one doing the least "real partying" of them all!! People who are doing what they truly love and are passionate about it tend to party less. Not to mention when they do it is rarely as "loud" as those that hate their jobs, boss, life situation, lover, mother or country would be. Of course never tell this to an avid party hardy weekend warier who hates his job. That would be attacking the very thing that is saving their life from total collapse. Though it is only soothing them that soothing is still vital. Not only that they would never admit it to you anyway. How could they if they can't admit it to themselves.

     I don't party much… in fact I am the self appointed head of the anti-social committee here at the ARC. We have meetings every Tuesday. To join you just have to make sure you don't show up and you are in. Our monthly "never-get-togethers" are always fun.

     Now one thing that can get a lot of people, is thinking they want to be doing something else. They may love what they do but don't want to admit it. A busy corporate lawyer may think he wants to escape to the country to strum a guitar. The truth is the boredom would kill him. Not at first mind you but six months later he would be going crazy. Sure it may sound nice on paper or on film but in reality the opposite is likely true. My guess is there are way more artist's out there that would drop their art on a dime were they given unlimited money. Likely way more than there are lawyers who would do the same. They just don't make movies about the freedom seeking artist running away to join the corporate world. It would make a cool movie though. In fact I saw this a lot here at the ARC while managing the joint. A lot of people love the concept of being an artist. Things like staying up late, sleeping in, drinking as often as you want, hanging out at coffee shops planning protests, the freedom, the fun…. Oh… and the art work of course. The trouble is when things get a little tough and they can no longer afford going to coffee shops, drinking, staying up late and sleeping in, the freedom, the fun… oh... and doing the art work of course so they get antzy and head out looking for a real paying job. It is not a big thing but does show that the lifestyle was more exciting than the life. You really have to love being an artist to do it.

     So before you jump to any hasty career decisions armed with a pocket full of optimism you may want to reflect on this. Muddy waters can be delicious if you just completed a two day waterless trek on the desert. Though it don't take long before that muddy water don't taste near as good as it did a day or even few hours earlier.

     Thus if you are looking for the dream life don't pass up the possibility that you have already found it. If you are sure it isn't the life of your dreams then just pretend it is. The Mothership told me the quickest way to get what you want is to love what you already have! I know, the opposite to what you thought you had to do, but apparently it is true. The trouble is very few have the guts to try it because they worry that they will just get stuck with it. Even if they have been "stuck with it" for years already. Oh and remember the dream life means doing the work you would love to do even if you didn't get paid for doing it. Contrary to popular belief it has nothing to do with sitting on a beach drinking all day and barking out orders to servants. People who want that are actually just looking for "soothing" because they hate their lives.

     Think about it if you are able to make fifty million dollars as a sharp businessman doing what you hate imagine how easy it would be for you to make the same doing what you love. Oh... unless you have some excuse as to why you can't that is. Just remember you can't ever make enough money to buy back your soul or passion and yes being a corporate lawyer with a hectic schedule might just be the dream you always wanted. Besides how else could you afford to buy my art?...