Many people think in terms of their cost-of-living. If exploring your art is your top priority, think instead in terms of cost-of-breathing.
The difference is that cost-of-living tends to make assumptions about what is required to “live,” or what “living” really is. When you think in terms of cost-of-breathing, it’s a valuable reminder that all you need to do is allow yourself to keep breathing long enough to find your artistic voice and “make it” in your craft.
If you’re sharing a bunk bed in a closet in New York City, you’ve taken measures to reduce your cost-of-living. You’re living, but are you “breathing?”
Do you have the space and time to listen to the voice in your head and discover what you have to offer? Or are you finding yourself constantly fighting distractions?
Are you trying to concentrate over the Taylor Swift album your roommate is blasting? Are you going out every night and blowing $200 on dinner and drinks just because someone who isn’t really your friend invited you?
The problem with nineteen-dollar avocado toast isn’t that it’s nineteen dollars, and not all that good. It’s that those are nineteen dollars you could have spent on breathing. At your hundred-dollar-an-hour freelance rate, that’s at least fifteen minutes you could have spent not mocking up another ad for sugar water. That’s fifteen minutes you could have spent on your art.
Let’s say for the price of that bunk bed in the closet in New York, you could get a two-bedroom apartment in Berlin, or Medellín, or Budapest. Now you’re living, but are you also breathing?
Maybe you don’t have a favorite band coming through town three times a week. Maybe the selection of molecular gastronomy restaurants is limited. Maybe to have avocado toast, you need to buy avocados at the store and put them on toast.
Many people calculate those expenses into their cost-of-living. What they don’t notice is that it reduces their breathing.
To find your artistic voice and make it in your craft. You don’t just need to live—you need to breathe. Think about your cost-of-breathing.
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