This post was originally published on my patreon page on March 14th, 2021. It has been adapted for this blog.
On Butts and Burnout
The last several weeks have a whirlwind of negotiating priorities and managing obligations all without dropping any of the glass balls I that I have in the air while also deciding which of my lovely plastic balls I am okay with dropping for the time being. I know I am not the only one in that space - much of the last year has managing thing after thing as we all learn about our new threshold for stress.
And so, my friends, I invite you to draw butts.
Last weekend my partner was teaching a vessel raising class and instead of my normally scheduled outdoor time (because we have to squeeze in fitness on top of all of this) I walked to a fancy store and bought snacks. And I went home and watched The Good Place all day and I drew butts. In bed. Without any shame or or guilt about how I should be working or using my time more efficiently.
And I think you should consider it.
I've been reading/listening to Time Smart by Ashley Willans during walks and other activities that allow my mind to wander. and she brings together a lot of ideas that are floating around in the zeitgeist right now wand creates a helpful framework about the way that we consider our own time. her premise is that time is our most valuable asset, but our behavior acts as though money is more important, and so we end up sacrificing our time for more money when study after study shows that more time to do what we want is actually what makes us happier.
This pairs rather well with How to Nothing by Jenny ODell, who frames leisure time as an act of resistance against grind culture and the attention economy and reminds us that early 20th century unions fought for our right to eight hours a day to "do what we will."
The last section of Time Smart focuses on what needs to change institutionally to great change in the way that we think about time and happiness, which I appreciated I (and most of us) don't have an abundance of wealth that allows us to make more time smart decisions, and while we still have a degree of agency in our lives to make choices about how we spend out time, we also need to see change on a structural and policy level.
But back to the butts.
I found myself needing a day to not care. To not try to fill my time with efficient productivity. To not not feel obligated to a system that I myself created. And oh my gosh, I felt so much better after taking that day off.
For the record, I am not super great at drawing butts. They aren't generally a thing that I make a point of putting in my art. But something about that felt like the puckish irreverence that I needed, and so I cut up a bunch of small pieces of paper and drew away.
MANY were not very good. At all. But this wasn't an exercise in being good at something - this was doodling for pleasure while I watched TV.
“I found myself needing a day to not care. To not try to fill my time with efficient productivity.”
Sometimes I didn't bother to finish something. Irreverent!
Others came out okay!
Now all of this isn't to say that I think painting is a drag. I love painting! I love using watercolors, I love painting flowers and bones - all of this drives me forward and fuels my passion and all of that good stuff. I think we also need time to make ourselves laugh while we don't do our best. <3
I hope that you are able to take some time to pursue your pleasure, even if it just an afternoon, or even if it is an hour. If you can find a moment to do a thing simply because it brings you joy to do it and no other reason, go for it. Be it butts, or playing your instrument, dancing, or active play, do it. And tell me about it! What does decompression time look like for you?