“Marines love to be miserable. Marines derive a perverse satisfaction in having colder chow, crappier equipment, and higher casualty rates than any outfit of dogfaces, swab jockeys, or flyboys, all of whom they despise. Why? Because these candy-asses don’t know how to be miserable.
The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he know it or not. He will be dining for the duration on a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.
The artist must be like that Marine. He has to know how to be miserable. He has to love being miserable. He has to take pride in being more miserable than any soldier or swabbie or jet jockey. Because this is war, baby. And war is hell.”
Steven Pressfield – The War of Art
My car isn’t working right and I’ve taken it to two different mechanics at least four times. I ate late and what I got was not very good and I wound up throwing it out. It feels like I haven’t had time with my Muse in years. I can’t seem to get my homework done. I’m not getting enough sleep. I’m miserable. And I love it.
Okay. I don’t love it. I don’t even like it. If I did, it wouldn’t be misery. Pressfield mentioned a “perverse satisfaction” in feeling miserable. I’m not sure if that’s what I feel either. What I do feel, however, is the desire to Get Started and Keep Going. This is hard. That’s what it is. That’s all it is. Sometimes it’s fun, when I’m really enjoying something I’m reading or when I’ve finished an assignment. But sometimes not even then. Sometimes I have to read something two or three times before I get something helpful. Sometimes when I’m done with an assignment, I’m too tired to be satisfied and all I want to do is go to bed.
I’m definitely feeling that diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation. Maybe not all of those and not all the time, but I can feel any one or more of those at any time. I’m also feeling fatigue and fear and stress.
So why am I doing this? Why am I writing a blog when I have so much to do? Why am I pursuing something that is so difficult and time-consuming? The answer to both questions is the same: love. I love my Muse and I love history. And so I’m willing for both my future and the past to be miserable because it’s misery with a Purpose. It’s also misery that’s temporary. One day I will have my house on the beach. One day I will have a Master’s Degree in History (that feels great just to write it). Until then I want to enjoy this process, all of it including the mental blocks, the financial struggles, the fatigue, all of it. I will never again have a time like this and I want to enjoy it and be grateful and let all of it, including and especially the difficult parts.
I don’t like being miserable, but I don’t hate it anymore either. I’m moving towards my goals and I’m doing something I’ve wanted to do for years. I’m not miserable. I’m blessed.
Steve Jobs said, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” I’m both right now and even though I’m miserable, I’ve never been happier.