I think M is right: that I am in “survival mode” right now. I’m surviving, though what else I’m doing, is questionable. Speaking of that, though: I have been working through Creating a Life Worth Living, by Carol Lloyd.
What I haven’t been so great about is the, “Daily Action,” something small and consistent to do every day which I wouldn’t normally do, and which is in line with my creative goals. I had been doing a free-write every day, but somehow that turned from, “free-writing 15 minutes every day,” into, “writing at least 15 minutes every day,” which is obviously enough, different.
Free-writing is writing anything that comes to mind, and not stopping. It’s an exercise in not-editing. Writing, however, has a more targeted focus, depending on what I’m writing about. For at least several days…I’ve been doing targeted writing, whether it’s for this blog, or trying to process personal stuff that has come up because of engaging my own Fiction writing, or trying to re-vision the Fiction in order to constrain my “multitudes” (to reference Whitman) into believable portions.
I am, that is, having a difficult time separating my personal process writing, or problem-solving writing, from my other writing. And do I not write enough, as it is? Do I need to add more writing, to it? After all, even if I did go ahead with a job as some kind of Editor, and worked on my own personal writing during downtime (should I have any; I believe Editors are charged with doing their reading on their off-hours), I would need a nonlinear respite from all the language. This is the reason why I believe the Art will remain in my life for the foreseeable future. And possibly, the more I have to read, the more I will need to do Art.
Maybe I should change the Creative Action to, “draw (or paint) for 15 minutes every morning,” or something similar. This is especially as I seem to have hit a snag where it comes to my own emotional health, combined with writing out a reflection of my own internal state: which I didn’t realize was going to be a reflection of my own internal state. I have been wanting to get up at 10 AM, but keep falling back to sleep because I have no reason to stay up.
What about if I get up at 10 AM to draw, or paint, in the morning light? (D says to eat, and do a little exercise, first.)
In Chapter 7 of Creating a Life Worth Living, Lloyd writes: “…if you feel a lot of fear while you are thinking through a given plan, that may well be a sign that you have hit something exciting.” (p. 159) In that chapter, she asks the reader to think out three separate life paths, as well as consider what one wants out of life aside from career goals. I think this is the first time someone has asked me to think out what I want from life, since high school.
Now that I think of it, the lull in my production could relate to doing most of the work this book is throwing at me, and having decided to actually put energy into self-care. Projecting myself into possible futures (or, at least thinking about doing so) really isn’t the most stress-relieving activity, you know? Not to mention that yesterday I exercised for the first time in a week…and that can take up a lot of time and energy, especially if one needs to thoroughly bathe, afterward.
I just haven’t been taking care of myself very well, recently.
I’m also thinking that, “doing what I love,” is going to be a scary thing, at least initially; particularly because the only thing that falls into this category that I wrote out (for Chapter 6’s activity) is painting. Painting isn’t just putting paint on a canvas. It’s visually producing an image which is a window into one’s personal state. At least, that’s where I’m coming from. (I did order a book which is apparently on Art Theory which says a bunch of nothing about, “what Art is,” which, along with the literal book, What Art Is, is making me think that I shouldn’t pay attention to Art critics, either.)
Painting also, at least initially, is not a financially secure way to earn a living. It also would seem to require that I get out of the house to see and find things to paint — and possibly, renew my own Art training. (Then there is the question of how to get that Art out in front of people who both desire it, and have the money to buy it…which is not all that different from what I might have to do as a craftsperson selling jewelry IRL, now that I think of it. Maybe I could do both???)
There’s also the problem of what happens if I need to work into my old age (which, without a massive re-envisioning of Social Security, is likely), and end up losing my sight (which is possible, but not necessarily going to happen)…which, I suppose, would mean that I would just need to change my medium, or otherwise adapt.
Typing, I can do blind: which is a big reason I initially gravitated towards Writing. I could also do Ceramics (lovely and primarily tactile), or Music (auditory): two things I grew up with. The acoustic guitar is currently my instrument of choice, but I just got up the nerve to play it again, tonight. And that was because of the influence of one of my characters…who started out as a dream-being, and is currently a musician. Oddly enough, it fits…without my consciously having realized it.
The guitar (the real one) hasn’t gone that out of tune; I wonder if D has been secretly tuning it.
I had stopped practice due to posture issues plus, “you’re never going to be able to support yourself doing this,” issues — but it was mostly, posture. My body is aging, and maybe that was the beginning of, “no you cannot sit on the floor ever again.” (I took away the all-caps for the sensitively inclined.) If I’m working creatively primarily to keep myself balanced, however, it doesn’t really matter if I can “make money at it” or not. Sanity is worth more than money, after all.
I do keep having dreams (many dreams) about going to music stores…though getting a 3/4 (or 1/2) size guitar is likely going to have to wait until I get comfortable enough with the illness situation, to actually go in and play the guitars. Every guitar has a different voice, which depends on a lot of things: being the same brand, doesn’t mean all that much. The most obviously changeable part of that voice has to do with the strings, which I found out over 20 years ago, while picking sounds out of different guitars at Subway.
And yes, I am dreading the next time one of those strings breaks. Do I want to go back to Subway?
“Well, yes, actually. I just don’t want to get sick.”
I also keep being attracted to mandolins, for some reason…
Though drawing and painting use different skills than the above, I do seem to remember seeing works by color-blind artists, as well as by painters who were losing their vision. It doesn’t necessarily have to end things. It’s just that I recognize that the ability to use all of one’s senses and physical capabilities as one wants to, is a privilege; not a guarantee. It probably wasn’t best to encounter that thinking for the first time, in Undergraduate training…
Of course, I’d love to get back into Art classes. The major issue — besides the obvious, of how to stay well when sickness is prevalent (if not for my own sake, then for my family’s) — is getting to classes. I still don’t drive, but that’s mostly because I’m concerned about road rage and accidents.
There is a lot going on in my life, which is incompletely done. Part of that is learning to take care of myself. I try and remember that I do have a disability that is thoroughgoing enough to have disrupted my early adult life — and that life has been disrupted enough that the disability itself, can’t be hidden (even if I am functioning enough now to be, more or less, in recovery).
Because I have the disability, I will basically be much better off if I maintain mental health care coverage, for the rest of my life: given that the mental health care system in this country remains compassionate and not punitive (to the tune of, “well, if you just acted like a normal person, you wouldn’t be so ill” — like that helps? “If you weren’t so ill, you wouldn’t be so ill”?). The issue with health insurance was more severe before the Affordable Care Act, when I was put onto a medication which had not yet had its patent expire, and which would have been out of my financial reach without health insurance. What was within my financial reach probably would have worked, but it would also have put me at increased risk of lifelong neural dysfunction.
So what I’m essentially doing now is cleaning up after all the years in which I didn’t know who I was, or what I was doing, or why (well, why is obvious: to make money so I would be able to afford healthcare, and so I wouldn’t become homeless, be forced to marry a person I didn’t desire for survival, or have to work in an environment in which I was disrespected).
There is a lot that I’m learning, from doing the activities in Creating a Life Worth Living…particularly where it comes to realizing how well (or poorly) I have thought out some of my options. On looking back across several job options I listed out for a recent exercise, I realize that having control over what I do create, is relatively high on my list of priorities.
The major reason I initially didn’t go into Graphic Design, after all, is that I didn’t want someone else making executive decisions over my work: especially when they didn’t know what they wanted, how to communicate it, or anything about Art or Design. This is also the reason I stopped pursuing the idea of making custom handcrafts: it’s just not worth it to try and people-please (especially when they’re people I don’t know, and especially when it comes to the image they want to project). Now that I think of it, this is also why I dropped a screenplay class featuring writing-by-committee; I didn’t want to deal with the social rules and hierarchy which made my ideas worthless when spoken from me, but gold when repeated by a white male classmate.
The only thing I wish is that they hired a better person to teach that class.
It seems that recently, doing one or two things for the day is the most I can bet on handling. I know I want to get back into my Buddhism reading, as it is probably going to help, over the long term. I also want to get back into reading on Art and art technique; especially as I can seriously play with abstractions (more easily) now, with the acrylic gouache.
The issue with the Buddhist interest (that is presently stopping me from doing that, and encouraging me to write here, instead): it brings into clarity my knowledge that, unless I die first, I’ll have to expect to outlive the people around me. It’s stupidly simple. If I die first, I can’t do much about that. But I need to be gaining skills and preparing to outlive the people around me, just in case it happens that I don’t die. Living is harder! For most of my life, I’ve not even really considered that I might survive, and that the thing to do is to prepare to survive. Not, to prepare to die.
That’s a pretty radical change of focus, and I can tell it hasn’t even fully taken hold, yet. The reason for me to write is to leave some mark on culture so that part of my experience is passed on — so that someone (hopefully, someone worthy) learns from it. I don’t wish to bear children, though I’m not sure how much of that is just my own gender stuff (I have no desire to be a mother — to children, or to a husband), and how much of it is sexuality stuff (the cause of which, I still don’t entirely understand).
So my relevant creations lie in my art and in my written work, not in raising one or more other individuals. In that sense, being a creative person is ingrained…and it lends more spiritual importance to my actually engaging with the work. I’m pretty sure that Lloyd would refer to this as part of my own “Mystic” creative type, popping up.
So yes, maybe it is relevant, to look back at my Buddhism texts. Even if I don’t want to be reminded of the temporary, and often painful, nature of life.
There are other things I want to do…particularly with my paints and brushes. And, beads. There is literally nothing stopping me. Nothing physical, at least…