Dear Someone: Sex : Art :: Dog : Lion

Walker_Lukens_082814

Walker Lukens is a musician living and working in Austin, Texas. His latest album is called Devoted. His advice column Dear Someone runs semimonthly on Pop Press International. You can send in your own inquiries by emailing Walker here or by using the submission form at the bottom of this post. He’ll give you advice if you ask. 

Dear Someone,

I replaced a ridiculously overactive sex and social life with work and art, now without what I was before I feel I’m missing a large part of who and what I am, but that lifestyle left me feeling empty too. Do I just get bored with everything because my life is too awesome or should I just live a life with all of the awesome at once instead of just some of the awesome?

Sincerely,

Veronika S.

dear_someone_x

_____

Dear Veronika S.,

I was walking through a cemetery the other day, as singer-songwriters tend to do, and I did not see anyone’s business card or a copy of anyone’s last bank statement. I did not, for that matter, see a list of sexual encounters on anyone’s headstone either. You don’t get to take money, sex, or prestige with you. I blame God, Veronika.

As Brother Willie hath told us, the night life ain’t a good life. At some point your looks or your health will fail you and what will you have to show for it? A life resembling an old country song? Hazy memories of fun?  A Wilt Chamberlin-esque record?

On the other side of things, a life filled with only work and art-making is about as fun as a case of warm champagne. We are human and regardless of how artistically-inclined, need to be loved. We need to share our success with others. While Willie seems to have the work/art/social life thing figured out, not all of us can be gypsies.

I’ve met lots of people over the years that buy into the binaries of Social Life vs. Work and Art vs Love Life. I have been guilty of this myself. On a purely logistical level, it is true; you cannot bone and sculpt at the same time, you can’t drink to win on a Wednesday when you’ve got to wake up at 6 a.m. on a Thursday.

Logistics aside, these binaries are very sophisticated forms of self-deception. There is no absolute choice between pursuing fun and working on your art. Before I go even more Tony Robbins on you and tell you that you’ve created this dilemma, I also want to tell you that sleep is the cousin of death. You’ve created these distinctions in between the parts of your life.

Try dividing your time each week into Things You Must Do vs. Things You Want To Do. Each week it will be different. Each week reward yourself for working hard. You’ll suck at first but repetition will make you better. Good habits are won, not inborn.

Quit listening to music that makes you depressed. Drink less beer. Ride a bike. Try walking somewhere. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Read a book. If you’re working so many hours at Pizza Hut that you can’t find time to write a song then quit working at Pizza Hut. If writing songs isn’t as important as the money you get from Pizza Hut, then stop telling yourself to write songs. Negative self-talk is like the flu. Quit giving so much of yourself to casual acquaintances. Quit flirting and fucking for sport.

Remember my favorite Henry Miller quote, “When you can’t create you can work.” If you’re a guitar player, finally teach yourself to Travis pick. If you’re a painter, learn to stretch and mount canvas. If you’re a filmmaker, learn to color correct. Think of what you do as a craft as much as a form of expression. See each one of your friends’ favorite movies. Read The War of Art or at least re-read this quote a few times: “The Professional has leaned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. The professional concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.”

If Sir Smog has any grip on the truth, then your once ‘ridiculously active sex life’ can still serve you in your newfound balanced lifestyle. Since I’ve already got you wading the murky waters of Smog’s back catalog, listen to “To Be of Use.” Definitely no one’s favorite club banger, but a damn good reminder that feeling useful will make us feel better than any lay, good night or paycheck.

Sincerely,

Walker





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