Creatives Have to Make Money, and yet…

Chase Reeves
5 min readMay 16, 2016

I’m upset that, for those of us with any perceived potential upward mobility, there’s no way to enjoy being poor. We must fear it.

Throughout centuries and cultures there’s been roles or paths where poverty is OK, expected even. It was a real option to be a holy wanderer, to find shelter and food in ashrams, and kibbutzes and temples and monasteries and farms etc.

A kind of “not just money-ness,” or, since i’m feeling poetic this morning, enlightened poverty.

But in America, today, no way.

We have to dress up our pilgrimage with monetization of some kind.

I think what we want is not a job we love, is not a sense of engagement with our work, is not even security. I think what we really want is to enjoy everything. And I think a lot of us are learning about how powerful “being present” can be as an asset to enjoy everything.

Culturally this is taking root in terms like “mindfulness,” “sustainability,” and “greek yogurt.”

We’ve had the industrialization sickness, the incessant productivity that leaves us feeling nothing but busy. We’re sick of it.

We want to enjoy everything, and we’re learning that presence is one of the best tricks we have for that.

Now, when I say “enjoy” I don’t mean there’s no pain, there’s no suffering. I mean a kind of “all is right-ness” in the world, a kind of acceptance. It would take me off track to dig in on this one, so just go with me on this: you want to enjoy yourself. That is, at least, one reason why you are still alive.

Right now there are countless 30 somethings searching for their way in the world, rolling around concepts like passion, security, possibility, opportunity, success, honesty, tradition and sustainability in their heads and hearts.

I say yes. This is where we’re supposed to be! 50 thousand years of human development and we’re getting closer and closer to it, to shaping our short (but lengthening) lives around our wants on a mass scale… instead of our needs.

But I want you to notice just how much monetization plays a role in your ideas. How much it has to, how much it’s not OK if you don’t have a monetization scheme in your plan.

It really and truly is the most important thing. Even though we know other things are much more important — love, intimacy, community, laughter, watching your child learn new things — money is still the most important thing.

You cannot get away from it.

If you pursue something without monetization your parents get extremely concerned, your peers start watching for more signs that you’re losing it, going full bipolar or something.

It’s in the water, this need to make money.

And our bodies are, like, 98% water or something.

I wish there was a way for you to truly experiment with your vocation, completely separate from the need to monetize.

And, do you know what I really wish? I wish I could make you less afraid of being poor, of being in need. I wish there wasn’t this brutal “law of the jungle” at work still today: that you must earn your living.

I wish I could make you less afraid of being poor.

You’re not entitled to it, you don’t deserve it unless you prove it… earn it.

If we could be comfortable — “we” because I also am trapped in this — on a path that doesn’t look like the normal up, up, up, upward progression of monetary success… if we felt perfectly normal and acceptable to be a high achiever yet still choose a life making much less money than normal for the sake of peace, quality, enjoyment… well, what the hell’s wrong with that when all the math’s been done?

You’d maybe need less intensity to pursue your thing.

You’d maybe not have to muster up so much false confidence just to be “insane enough to try it.”

You’d certainly get to root your creativity more in what you enjoy and less in what is popular right now. And I think that would make for so much fun shit to watch and listen to and look at and eat, etc.

But, you do have to monetize. You must find a way. For some of us that means we take a job and save ourselves some time for our exploration on the side. For others it means we try to make our exploration our job… dicey but doable.

And for a shit-ton of us it means we monetize our time and pursue very little of what’s inside us. (Which, honestly, isn’t that bad since TV has gotten so damn good.)

I don’t care if you call it “pursuing your passion” or “finding your calling” or “exploring your me-ness” or “finding your bliss” … I’m just sick to see how hard we are on ourselves about this. What we’re trying to do is very difficult and it’ll take a bunch of luck and bravery to find our way to what we want… A life of relational intimacy, spiritual exploration, deeper feelings, richer fulfillment and all monetized honestly on the back of our blog or podcast or email list or training course or book or food cart or social media celebrity or hipness in general.

And as I finish writing this, I wonder if I’m just being a winey little bitch — wanting life to be less hard when its clearly always been hard, much harder than it is these days.

I guess I’m ok with being a winey little bitch, though. Because at least I’m giving myself some clarity on the myth I’m living in. And it’s making me wonder at all those spiritual folks who came before that literally hated the idea of money because it opens up this entirely other economy which has nothing to do with peace, patience, wisdom, belly laughs and the soul.

Now I actually am wining. Forgive me.

Forgive me because you have a real life to live. And that means you have to make money.

Let’s just try to remember that we’ll never earn from money what it is we really want for keeps. And lets realize that there are more and more creative ways to make your living without hating your life.

Here’s one little trick: don’t forget how to really enjoy yourself. Next time you can, fully indulge, find the pleasure of something… You know you’re on the right trail when it tastes or feels so good that you think, “should I even be allowed to do this right now??”

I love you. And as I end every episode of the podcast I co-host: find care, take care, serve hard and dig in.

Thanks for reading.

I mean, what have you got to lose?

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Chase Reeves

Previously co-founded things like online education startups, children. Now making videos and podcasts at chasereeves.co