Going Sane

Week two of The Artist’s Way is about “recovering a sense of identity”. If that sounds a bit ambiguous to you, you’re not the only one. In reality, the chapter is more about recognizing the things that are poisoning your ability to take yourself seriously as an artist, and striking them from your life. The chapter talks about “poisonous playmates” (i.e. other artists who are having a rough time and bring you down with them because misery loves company) and “crazymakers” (i.e. those people in our lives who are terribly destructive and waste our time and energy with their selfish ways). All in all, the chapter encourages you to look for the things and people in your life that are selfishly keeping you from reaching your full potential, learn how to avoid their destructive ways, and use your newly-freed time and energy to focus on more important things, like your art.

The tasks for this week are based around paying more attention to yourself, to the things you want to do, the person you want to be, and the life you want to live. Because these tasks are a little personal in nature, I don’t really feel comfortable sharing them with the online world. That said, I thought I’d share one of the tasks that I think could be helpful to people in seeing what’s missing in their lives.

The task is called “Life Pie”. First, you draw a circle and divide it into six equal pie pieces. Next, on each of the pieces write one of the following:

Spirituality (for the godless of us, this can mean whatever you feel it means)
Exercise
Play
Work
Friends
Romance/Adventure

Once you have your pie pieces labeled, place a dot in each slice to represent how fulfilled you feel in that area of your life. Closer to the center of the circle means less fulfilled, and closer to the outside of the circle means more fulfilled. So, for instance, if you absolutely hate your job, draw a dot near the center of the circle on that pie piece. If you have a ton of wonderful friends, draw a dot near the outside of the circle on that pie piece. Once your done, connect the dots, going from one pie piece to the next until you have what will likely look like an extremely lop-sided six-point star, like this example:

LifePieexample

The point of this exercise is to show yourself where you’re lacking. If you’ve got all work and no play, for example, you’re not well balanced. The pie pieces that represent the most unfulfilled parts of your life are places where you need to work harder to bring a steady state to your psyche.

The second part of the exercise, then, is to do little things to increase the “fulfillment” of the pie pieces that are lacking. If your “Play” piece is almost empty, find something fun to do in your spare time. If your “Exercise” piece is lacking, take yourself for a walk or take a trip to the local pool for a free swim. The key is to stop looking for huge amounts of free time and take whatever you can get to do little things that make you happier.

Without actually sharing it, I can tell you that my pie is horribly lopsided. There are a few full pie pieces, and there are a few nearly-empty ones. Knowing that, I hope to bring a bit of balance, if I can.

How about you? Is your pie balanced, or does it look like a misshapen spider? Did the pie help you realize what is missing in your life? What do you plan to do about it? Please share!

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