At seventeen I was homeless and orphaned, taking care of my fourteen year old brother who I somehow managed to keep in school. I had dropped out of school. I did two years of wasting time eventually trying to get my head on straight. At nineteen I was homeless again. Scraped together enough money to get my ass to Arizona to study art. Got a temp apt to get me through to the end of the month and took a job at subway (applied all over til I found something). The subway job paid enough money to sometimes eat and pay my small studio rental. I went back to school to get my graduation and was working full time (thought I needed to graduate from HS to get into a good college). Trust me...it was fucking painful. I transferred to a community college the following year and slowly got better and better jobs. Worked telemarketing fund raising to afford a 1977 Datsun and art supplies. Shittiest job ever but paid double what subway did. Worked three jobs during the summer to get caught up including going to Alaska to work the salmon docks across the country. I did not give a shit what it was, if it paid for my goals to be met and didn't involve anything illegal, I did it.
As time went on I realized I needed to arrange my priorities again. I took a night time job so I could exhaust all my energies in my art and studies. Eventually got a job at AT&T..."AT&T this is Jason how may I help you?"...I was still far behind those who had life handed to them their whole life. However, I was catching up. In time I realized it was not a chase against others but to only my own race to my goals. Kept the nose down. Chose friends who worked on art or learning always. Ignored the time wasting folk who never will amount to anything other than regular. Grew up around enough of those to realize the difference. After three and a half years I took my first art job and quit my shit job...have lived with and from art ever since.
By the time I was 29 I had achieved every goal I had reached for when I first set out. That is when I realized it was time to set new goals...each time this happens it feels like starting over...get something done..start again...in time your life becomes what you want it to be. Even those of money have to do this if their life involves learning, skill, and growth. It is not money that holds people back...is just their own mind.
The hard part about certain situations is not everyone is told they can do and reach their goals if they just work their ass off starting RIGHT NOW. Some know it and wont work for whatever reason. They listen to that voice that says I want to chill and watch TV or i don't feel like it. Others have addictions or mental issues keeping them from growing and learning. I didn't want to be any of that. I wanted to do cool stuff...to have an interesting life...and to work in a creative way.
Hard manual labor growing up taught me that my mind would rot if I chose that kind of path. I wanted something to use my mind. Bored if not...and with boredom comes making trouble or distraction. Gotta turn that into work ethic...no choice. Carl Dobsky was telling me this about the atelier every day. It has to be just uncomfortable enough to make the coolest thing to do be art. If there is a blaring TV or anything else, than there are other options. Options that keep one from not working to reach their goals.
Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. You clearly are not complacent. So do something about it in every free second of your day. All this wandering around doing not a whole lot but thinking isn't getting you much done. It is however, giving you a taste of life many others would never have the guts to explore. Just don't stay down there too long without coming up for air.
January 2, 2009
Words of wisdom from Jason Manley
A small lesson on how anything can and is possible in life by the artist and president of Massive Black, Jason Manley.