Grown-ups aren’t always right – most of the time they’re not. Now that I’m a grown-up myself, I know this is true.
Instead, we like to torture ourselves. Us, and others.
We say things like:
„Business before pleasure“ or
„If you don’t eat up, you won’t get any dessert“.
Why should we not have dessert first?
Why do we have so many „priorities“, that have nothing to do with what matters to us?
Who is defining these goals – if not ourselves?
When I started to work as a freelancer, I had a daily fight with my bed.
I’m not a born early bird, even though I love the morning hours.
So I dreamed of a life without an alarm-clock, and sometimes I dreamed until noon.
I knew that first thing in the morning I needed to get stuff done. Work on projects. Find new projects. Make money.
Business before pleasure.
Unfortunately this business stuff often consisted of things I did not like to do. No doubt I was happy about the outcomes of this. Still the activity itself wasn’t anything that would have amazed me.
I liked the goal, but not the way.
And I thought that it needed to be like this. That’s what they call „work“ – I thought.
So I did what many people do, and only few like to admit: I spent more time hiding from work than actually working.
I didn’t allow myself to do the things I liked to do, because I thought I needed to get everything else done first. But I also didn’t do that, because it neither interested nor amazed me – and I procrastinated instead.
Days, weeks and months went by. Instead of „business before pleasure“, I was living with procrastination before business. Procrastination had squeezed itself on the first spot of my to-do-list – and had thrown „pleasure“ from the papersheet.
And I started asking myself: what am I doing this for anyway?
Art can hurt – but it’s never „hard“.
Like Charles Bukowski’s saying it in his great poem „So you want to be a writer“:
if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by itself
and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.
I don’t need to force myself to write. I might be anxious. But it’s not hard. As long as I trust and stay patient, the words will come out. Always.
The same is true for me for singing. It’s easy. I just hadn’t allowed myself to write and sing and create for a long time.
Business > pleasure. Business > friends & family. Business > me.
It took a while until I realised this prioritization.
Where did it come from?
Our western world is highly influenced by two forces:
1. religion / church;
2. the economy.
For decades and centuries, people had been told by the church that they needed to suffer and ask for forgiveness.
Over the last century „penitence before paradise“ became „business before pleasure“, but the principle stayed the same.
People had to go to church, no matter if it was a positive thing for them to do. Today people must go to work, no matter if the time spent there, is valuable for them personally. It’s just what people do. And sure, they need the money.
Money and power always depend on people. People who work. People who pay. People who believe.
And so we’re told to work and earn money to afford stuff and always consume more.
We do this because we’re anxious. Anxious of not fitting in. Anxious of falling down the black hole of failure.
The instruments for this system are fear and the prospects of a better existence — in paradise, after work or once you’re retired — finally.
So I turned the tables.
I put pleasure on the first spot of my to-do-list. And if I want to, I eat dessert first. I sometimes even eat chocolate for breakfast. OMG!
I spend my mornings with things that add to my well-being… reading, writing, music, …
And afterwards I do whatever needs to be done. Even if this means work that’s not so pleasurable.
Because this is not about only doing pleasurable things. Don’t get me wrong about that. This is about making them priority.
Because these are the things that make me who I am and which make life great where basic needs only help me survive.
I’m lucky to live so freely that I can eat my dessert first — or even get dessert at all. I don’t take this for granted.
And this is why I share it. This is why I share my art and pleasures.
You know that a joy that’s shared is a joy made double.
The same is true for dessert. And art.