…Why does it feel more disheartening to be thought of as old (or not young) than it is to be thought of as fat or not very intelligent?
I’ve been starting each day with the last few lines of the day before in order to give this project some continuity but most days it doesn’t work because my brain has moved on to the next thing. At least for now. I circle round and round the same obsessions so it stands to reason over 30 days I’ll trace and retrace the same emotional circles. I think every artist has an obsession or two in their work though they never might articulate it as such. What’s hard is exploring those obsessions in one’s art practice without starting from square one with those emotional things in one’s actual life. I think I’ve moved forward from a lot of the things I write about, but there’s still more to mine there. So am I stuck, or am I just thorough?
Yesterday I fell too deep into myself, which happens sometimes. I probably should’ve expected that after a week of being social, being out of my regular routine, that I would introvert hardcore. And that’s good if there’s some sort of movement going on—I’m going to lunch (or in the case of yesterday, I should have gone to church), or I’m walking up and down my apartment thinking and doing bits and pieces of the things I want to get done. It’s meditative and I can usually push myself forward over some hurdle—emotional, spiritual, professional—by at least a centimeter. But every once in a while I choose instead to spend the day on the couch, which starts out okay but ends with me way deep inside my head feeling heavy with stuck-ness, with emotional inertia, which is the perfect stage for all of my insecurities to flounce across, preening and parading, and sticking their dumb selves in my face. Which is not to say I shouldn’t sit on the couch ever and let myself just watch TV and dream, but there are certain times when I’m tiptoeing around an ice rink of depression that it’s just better for me not to linger there. And I think I always know when I’m at that place, but I don’t always listen to myself. Yesterday I pretty much talked myself out of going to church, which was stupid cause clearly the me that actually knows how to take care of myself (she lives quietly somewhere in the center of my gut and passes her days knitting and daydreaming and sending secret mind messages to Josh Groban and Michael Fassbender) was trying to force me into having some human contact so I wouldn’t spiral down.
I did finally fight my way out of it and by the time I went to bed last night I no longer believed I’d never get to a healthy weight at which I was comfortable, that I would die alone without friends, that I hadn’t ever done a damned thing that mattered, or that I was—when you added up my sum total—merely an insignificant, depressive speck. I don’t expect that I will ever stop having depressive episodes. The same brain that works itself into a let’s-go-jump-off-a-cliff-so-the-negative-chatter-will-stop frenzy is also the same brain that fills me with empathy and love and the courage to keep that damned pen moving across that damned blank page. In other words, I think part of my depression comes from letting too much in, but it’s all that stuff that comes in that gets filtered into poetry. So I’m not sure I exactly want to fix my brain.*
What I do want, and what I actually have gained through lots of thinking and lots of practice over time, is perspective. As much as I was weighted down with darkness yesterday, I knew from experience, that just doing one little thing different would put me back in balance. So I forced myself to take a shower and changed into fresh pajamas and washed the dishes. And at first it felt a little like slogging through molasses but little by little I felt my regular rhythm start to come back. I have the perspective now to know that even though I can sometimes feel emotionally squashed, squished, and outright pulverized, I just have to grit my teeth through it cause it’s not forever. I think that’s an important life thing to realize—nothing’s forever. Which we often think of as being a sad fact, cause we tend to think only of good things ending. But I’m going to be blatantly Pollyanna and say it also means bad things end, and good things get even better or just change into a different version of a good thing. Nothing’s ever in stasis, is it? No matter how stuck we feel. Hmmm, so maybe that’s the only thing we can count on as being true forever? Everything changes eventually.
To be continued…
*PS Don’t freak out people, I am going back to therapy soon and have two bonafide recs from my doctor.