Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
Home Artist Blog About Me Life in Alaska Purchase Site Index Speak
Home » Archives » February 2008 » Have an Average Day

[Previous entry: "Mountain Photo Experiments"] [Next entry: "Foggy Bottoms"]

02/18/2008: "Have an Average Day"

There is a brief but uplifting article in the Utne Reader titledHave an Average Day. This man was looking for clues on how to prevent suicidal behavior in teens by reading their suicide notes and he came to believe that:

"...the enemy of happiness is the curse of exceptionailty. When everyone is trying to be exceptional, nearly everyone fails because the exceptional becomes commonplace, and those few who do succeed feel isolated and estranged from their peers. We’re left with a world in which a few people feel envied, misunderstood, and alone, while thousands of others feel like failures for not being good, special, rich, or happy enough."

He goes on to talk about how real happiness is derived from the common pleasures of an average day. I agree wholeheartedly with the premis of this article. I used to feel a lot of pressure to succeed at all costs. I always thought from a very early age that I was going to be very famous one day and everyday that went by without that happening, I felt more and more terrible. I'm happy to say I haven't felt that in a long time. Maybe because I appreciate all the things I wouldn't have if my early dreams of fame and fortune were a reality.

For one thing, a sweetie who who made me this cute little cloud of hearts using a plasma cutter in his welding class (since he was in class all night on Valentines Day).

steel-hearts (12k image)

The article also had a side bar that talked about all the things you could accomplish in a year if you only put in an average amount of effort on a daily basis (Mon-Fri). It was pretty impressive! I think in some ways the article is what encouraged me to start painting again this weekend. The knowledge that I could just paint, even if the work was going to be average. It would still be better than not painting at all. Wouldn't you agree?

Replies: 8 Comments

on Monday, February 18th, marja-leena said

'real happiness is derived from the common pleasures of an average day' and 'all the things you could accomplish in a year if you only put in an average amount of effort on a daily basis! - YES, absolutely! I need to do more of the second, hmm.

on Monday, February 18th, Elise said

Yes Marja-leena, some days even at my day job, I feel like I get overwhelmed by how much I have to get done. And sometimes that makes it so that I don't get anything done. But if you just chip away at things, it really adds up over time.

And it feels amazing to be painting again.

on Monday, February 18th, berry connell said

PAINT like the WIND! came by a day or so too early.
Go back now, and third video from the top is a group of paintings I'm picking through to put in my shom for March.

on Monday, February 18th, Elise said

Hi Berry,
Holy cow! You really have done a ton of paintings. How do you find the time???

on Tuesday, February 19th, Kirsten Harper said

Its funny I would stumble on this blog, because I recently started painting everyday too. It was advice I read in a book by Julia Cameron called 'Finding Water'. Very good book for struggling/occasionally discouraged creatives! :satisfied:

on Tuesday, February 19th, Emily said

Thanks for the reminder Elise. This applies to writing poetry too! I once had a writing teacher who told us we needed to write daily. He told us we’d produce a lot of junk, but that was good—we needed to get those out of our system to make room for the really inspired work that was waiting in the wings.

on Wednesday, February 20th, Howard said

I've had friends who have fallen into this trap. It's very difficult to have them around and continue to work. If they'd only spend have the time they spend sitting around moaning about how they're not rich and famous, producing work, they'd have enough work to have yearly shows. It's kind of a catch 22 really.

on Friday, February 22nd, Elise said

Hi Kirsten,
Yah, my "painting everyday" didn't last very long. Shortly after this post I came down with an arthritis flare up and was unable to paint or do much of anything else. Very frustrating. Thanks for the book recommendation, I'll check it out!

And Emily, yes, it applies across the board really. I just wish I was following my own advice!

And Howard, yes, I know what you're talking about. I don't spend any time moaning the fact I'm not rich and famous but I do feel sorry for myself a lot for other reasons and it's a bad bad habit.

I will try to get back into a good work habit now that my latest arthritis bout has passed.