Life or livelihood
Life or livelihood

In a recent episode of Girls, Hannah talks about feeling like she’s selling out by writing advertorials. Her job is where creatives go to die (read: make money). I feel like that sometimes with my blog, too. You make a choice between living and livelihood.

I used to really like writing narrative pieces and I was so proud when I finished them (actually they’re never finished, but that’s another story for another day). With blogging, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and start writing things so people can find them. I‘ve been doing up my site and going through all of my archives. I loved that writing. It was in-depth, thoughtful articles about culture and place. Even posts that were like “Ooh, yum, ice cream!” taught you a little more about where I was. 

I have really useful pieces that I’m proud of and that people have thanked me for writing, but I wrote those because they’re easy to write. My blog has become more ‘functional’ than ‘place where I learn and create’.

I miss that. But 99% of people will never make money doing things the way they want to do them. Somewhere down the line you make a compromise with your art. As much as I love writing, it’s tiring. So when I get home from a long day at work I don’t feel like creating any more – even if it’s for myself.

And then I just end up reading, watching, or listening to other people’s creations…

St Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland

I feel a cool breeze on my arms and face. I’m sitting on a picnic table in Len Ford Park on Lakeshore Promenade in Etobicoke, surrounded by weeping willow trees.

An old man on a bike rides behind me – he was pulling recycling out of the bins with tongs. He stops in front of another old man sitting on a bench. He’s wearing a blue Maple Leafs cap and peeling an orange. They start speaking in Spanish.

I hear the sound of Lake Ontario rolling onto the rocks. Canada geese quack. A black Honda CRV drives by on the road behind me and I heard it before I saw it.

It feels damp and the air smells musky – almost salty – even though the lake is fresh water. Fresh, yes. Clean? That’s another question.

A man jogs by in a sweatshirt and basketball shorts.

The longer I sit, the colder the air feels on my skin.

I look behind me and a man in a green shirt comes out of a house that faces the lake. A Canadian flag flies from the deck. Behind it, I can hear him fixing the roof of his patio.

I see the water splash high above the rocks in front of me.

Philosopher's Walk, ROM, Toronto
Philosopher’s Walk

I think about the weeping willow trees. They remind me of being eight years old – we had one in our backyard also framed by raspberry bushes. In the summer, I used to pick a handful of raspberries and read under the willow tree. I had one on Philosopher’s Walk next to the Royal Ontario Museum I would relax under in university.

I feel at home and comfortable when the screeching of the homeowner’s drill interrupts my thoughts.

A black squirrel bounds across the field in front of me. He stops for a moment before scurrying away towards the lake.

I notice that the breeze is gone. The sun is rising – it’s 9 AM and it warms my left forearm. A plane passes overhead, but I can’t see it until I lean my head back.

Love Locks on Charles Bridge in Prague
Love Locks

I look at the picnic table I’m sitting on. There are sunflower seeds on it and graffiti etched into it: names, surrounded by a heart. I forgot to write them down, but I remember wondering whether the couple was still together and if they remembered scratching this into the painted wood.

A woman passes by on the path below, walking two huskies. I hear another plane passing by.

I lament my lack of Spanish because I’d love to chat to the two men. I keep hearing them say “la playa” which I know means beach.

The dampness that was felt when it was cold turns to humidity as the sun gets brighter. I hear a few raps of a hammer. And again. The chirping of crickets crescendos and then stops briskly. It starts up again further away.

The old man on the bike rides away, his recycling clunks as his back wheel goes over the curb. The man in the Maple Leafs cap leaves after throwing the orange rinds in the garbage.

Back to my Blackberry – I have a message.

4 thoughts on “Paying Attention”

  1. You had me in tears! You do have a brilliant gift for narrative, but you are also so wise with your more informative pieces. Keep trekking on. I feel you. As a writer and very new blogger myself, it’s hard to churn things out when you aren’t seeing much payback either, let alone having the energy to pour out thoughts in a coherant and insightful manner as you do.

    I hope you get that creative mojo back!

    1. Hey Alyssa (ooh, so strange!),

      Thanks for all of your kind and supportive comments 🙂 If there’s one thing I know, it’s that genuine blogging is a marathon, not a sprint! So same to you – keep on keeping on and remember to interact with the blogging community and such.

  2. ” So when I get home from a long day at work I don’t feel like creating any more – even if it’s for myself.

    And then I just end up reading, watching, or listening to other people’s creations…”

    Holy shit, yes.

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