Things Get Messy
February 15th, 2014
My presentation today at the College Art Association’s annual conference was called “Financial Basics for Entrepreneurial Artists.” But in the spirit of improvisation and, dare I say, impulsive artistry, I added the subtitle: “Things Get Messy.”
Messy is all around us, and not just because it is winter (a long, cold, interminable winter). Messy is in our goals; messy is in our budgets; messy is in our art; and messy is in the balance we strike between our personal and professional commitments. The line between them is messy indeed.
And messy is delightful.
If life weren’t messy, I wouldn’t watch artists, educators, and administrators hang out with their kids, partners, and families between conference sessions. I wouldn’t have seen babies in chest carriers at the conference’s educational marketplace. I wouldn’t have celebrated my husband’s birthday and Valentine’s Day with a (delicious) Thai dinner and Singh after conference meetings and before responding to an inbox full of emails. I wouldn’t have waved goodbye to my daughter, improbably clad in a swimsuit and snow boots in the middle of February, heading to the hotel pool with my husband while I prepared my (rapidly changing) presentation.
Rapidly changing is okay. Messy is okay. Messy is better than okay.
Messy is why we bother making plans and tweaking them. Messy is what makes the plans interesting.
The nimble approach we – anyone with any sort of creative bent – bring to problem solving is what solves the problems. The problems are inevitable. Budgets will be wrong. Goals will be postponed. Plans will change.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop budgeting, setting goals, or making plans. We just have to accept that the process may be messy. Messy is what makes life fun, and it is where the creative spirit really thrives.
It isn’t always easy; it isn’t always pleasant to revise our plans. Sometimes it is decidedly unpleasant or even catastrophic.
But my presentation was better because I made it messy (and accessible and relevant, or at least more so than it originally was). My weekend at the conference was better because it was messy, and fully of family, friends, and professional obligations (and sometimes all three in the same moment).
Bring on the delightful mess.
Miss today’s presentation at CAA? Here’s a copy of the (messy) presentation.