Alan Watts: What if money was no object? (x)
Man, what unbelievably shitty advice this is.
Clearly, making money the center of anything is a bad idea. Also, as someone who uses the trite phrase “follow your heart” unironically and extremely often, I would never advise someone to not look for passion in anything that they choose to do.
But there is also something to be said for realizing that your vocation doesn’t really identify yourself. Having to make sacrifices (like working a shitty job) in order to enjoy your passions in your free time (be it poetry or even like, being able to easily buy diapers for your lovely baby) is just the way that the world works. To state that “you’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living” is just so sophomoric and simple and self-centered that it almost gives me a headache. There is no magic profession that unlocks your heart and sets you free.
It’s such a Western idea that you have to enjoy your job. In most other countries in the world, a job is something that you do in order to provide for yourself and your loved ones. And guess what! These people are usually never miserable at a desk, if only because they don’t believe the lie that says their workday deserves to be one big happy sunset-laden horse party. Interestingly, Alan Watts was known for integrating Eastern philosophies into Western culture. I won’t claim to know a ton about Eastern religions, but I do know that using that kind of ‘find-yourself’ philosophy in order to convince students (who are not buddhists/hindus/whatever) that they ought not to work towards financial responsibility is silly. So happy that it lives on 40 years later in an internet comic.
Also, can we stopppp romanticizing the arts like this? You think that chasing your passion for poetry means that your life will be happy? I went to art school, bro. I know artists. I know people who have pursued a career in art. They have their own unique set of struggles, too! They can’t always afford the kind of lifestyle that their peers can. It’s a constant grind to look for work or exposure. Even when they find it, they are sometimes forced to make compromises and do things that take away from the ‘integrity of their craft.’ When they do get a good project, you can see how incredibly happy and fulfilled they are, but these moments can be rare and also totally unreliable and inconsistent. Being a full-time artist can be an incredible burden to take on. LISTEN TO ME, CHILDREN OF AMERICA. Don’t believe the hype. If you want to pursue a future in art, I’m going to tell you not to do it. You know why? Because if you really have such an itching to create something to the degree that it will be the right thing for your future, you will stop at it no matter what. You will not brattishly say “But everyone knows your can’t earn any money that way!” KID IMA SMACK YOU. GO DO SOME DAMN PAPERWORK AND COME BACK WHEN YOU HAVE ENOUGH HUMILITY TO ADMIT THAT YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HAPPY AND FREE BEFORE YOU’RE EVEN OLD ENOUGH TO RENT A CAR.
Tupac once said “I didn’t choose the thug life, it chose me.” And a career in the arts is also kinda like the thug life. Ride or die.