A Heartbeat Away from Broke

Just so you know… You are beautiful

Original art by @anna_e_hiller

The Instantaneous Regret of Moving On


Last night I dreamt that I bought a sporty new car—something far above my pay scale with a “Q” in the name—much to everybody’s chagrin. I didn’t understand why everyone around me was so dismayed by my purchase until I went to load it up for a road trip and realized that it had no cargo space. I instantly knew that I had made a mistake, and began the process of trying to recover my Subaru, which, by then, was already gone.

Gambling Your Heart Away

I like to play the pennies, I admit it. There is something very satisfying about feeding a twenty into the tragamonedas (Spanish for slot machine, literally “coin-swallower”) and watching that money wax and wane with each spin. It is a heady pleasure, a guilty pleasure, and an expensive one to boot.

Slot machines are fun only when you have infinite resources. Otherwise, they just chew up your heart because you can never win enough to banish the shame of having played at all.

My whole life I have bet on capital-w-Writing, that it would be my money-maker. And it is, as I am (by day) a technical writer. That means I make a living off my writing, technically… However, this second career of mine—writing stuff about the things that make the stuff that go in the shiny, ubiquitous stuff that we use to numb our souls and fill Verizon’s coffers—was not what I had in mind when I went all-in on Writing.

I put my chips on Writing because it felt like a sure thing, a safe bet, low risk, high reward.

To say I was wrong—merely wrong—when I placed my bet would be an understatement. I invested all my cash and all my ego in Writing and Being a Writer. I invested more cash and less ego in getting a Ph.D., biding my time until the right moment, when the perfect idea for a novel would come to me, ignite, and torch my drab academic life.

It didn’t happen. Writing didn’t happen. And that is breaking my heart.

I retreated from the green felt with my few remaining chips after the defeat—after realizing that I can’t do it, can’t write, not at all—and decided to look for a different horse. A dark one.

Now I make art. I traded my worn-out computer with a busted screen for a month’s worth of gesso and a dozen metallic paint pens.

I don’t see people shaking their heads yet. I don’t hear any sad horns in the background. But I keep wondering if—like the dream with the forfeited Subaru—I won’t regret this decision further down the line. I know you can’t take it with you, none of it, not even the paint pens.

Now that I’ve gambled away almost my entire heart on Writing, what will I do with the paltry remainder? Can I regrow a heart when the soil of time is thin, thinning, thinner now than it was just a heartbeat ago?

I don’t know. I’ll keep making art for now. It’s not like I’ve got anything riding on it… not yet anyway.

I guarantee that once my ego has stopped licking its wounds, it will look at my art, gnash its teeth, and have me for dinner.

Because that’s what ego does.

I don’t want ego.

I want spirit.

I see my spirit in art, and I see Ego devouring Writing like Goya’s Saturno from the black paintings. Look it up; it’s too ugly to post here.

Will Ego come for my art?

Maybe. When it’s time.

….When it’s time, when it’s time, wake me when it’s time…

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