It’s an atypical Sunday. And it began that way. I guzzled my morning coffee at a Monday’s pace, determined to squeeze in a 3-mile run before a brief, but unconventionally scheduled work meeting. As I scrolled through emails and checked alerts on my phone, I came across a yet-unreturned “like” from another blogger on my About page. Like other polite and well-intentioned bloggers, I visited her site to return the kindness and discovered that she had written a recent post about The Used Life. The gesture touched me in a way that the author, Linda, surely couldn’t have anticipated. If only because she could never have known the turmoil I’ve been experiencing lately regarding this blog and what purpose it realistically serves (if any) in helping me to move forward in a meaningful direction. There are days when I come alarmingly close to hitting “Delete.” I attribute the creative ebb I seem to have found myself in lately to that doubt-filled thinking. I honestly believe that if Linda had not published her post this morning, I would not be writing this one. I would like to thank her for giving me the gift of encouragement, whether she knew I needed it or not.
I find myself now, post-meeting, curled up at a corner table at Starbucks, writing long-hand in a new notebook. A catharsis. The feeling of a fresh start. A titillating illusion. It may be said that I am going through one of the darker phases of the creative process, as discussed in Flinch., in which I want to take what I love and destroy it. There are days in which I hate The Used Life as much as—or more than—I love it. Sometimes, I swell with pride when I look at what I’ve produced on this site. Other days, I am filled with disgust, even embarrassment, and feelings of lack—of being “not good enough”—when I see what I have created here.
I have to reconnect, I think. Put pen to paper. Jazz in my headphones. Exorcise my demons. I must allow the writer in me to write in order to exhale, to keep myself from drowning. I write to change. But, am I afraid of change? Of the possibility of leaving what I have behind? But, what do I have—really have—besides the stories I tell myself? Am I too stubborn? Too self-reliant? (I am an only child.) I know that change is imminent. I can feel it circulating in the air I breathe. I know this feeling. The feeling that the walls are closing in. That the present moment has reached a threshold of intolerability. That the best thing I can do for myself is to say, FUCK IT! and take massive, determined action that will propel me into the unknown. Do I even have another choice? I can be impetuous.
Then again, aren’t these walls of my own making? Didn’t I erect them myself? Didn’t I? Am I so reluctant to admit to myself that I am the author of my own discontentment? The creator of my own anguish? And, isn’t that actually good news? I could choose to believe that or not. It’s probably better that I’ll never know what all of my demons look like. To sense them well enough to discern them can create enough in the way of suffering.
Is it a gift—the writing, the introspection, the excessive experimentation, the seeing through to people? I am careless with myself sometimes. The other day, I told a friend he was much smarter than he believed. It’s so obvious to me. His intelligence is one of his most magnetic qualities. It’s in everything he does. But, he doesn’t know it. I don’t think he believed me when I told him that, either. Am I that way? My blind spots are big. I know they are. I have to ask myself, who could I be if I saw the good in myself like I see it in other people?
Why can I not seem to find a direction that satisfies me? Why does so much of what’s out there feel wrong? Why do I make all of my decisions based on feel? Because I don’t know how else to make decisions. Why do I feel my work always exists on one or the other end of a continuum—that it oscillates between the polarities of being “too good” (for what, anyway?) and “not good enough?” Why do I feel that nothing I will ever bring into the world will have a home that I do not make myself? Is it integrity that motivates me? Or fear? Yes. God, I hate being honest with myself.
A part of me wants this stream of thoughts to be beautiful. My mind is wandering to dinner. I am craving elegance. Braised lamb shoulder. Duck. Pan-seared chicken with Riesling cream sauce, chanterelles, and chard. Thank you, Saveur. I want a lavender massage, a long, hot bubble bath, and a glass of rosé. I think I left my heart in Paris.
This is how I center myself. I make. When I mold something until I sense it is beautiful. When I immerse myself in the aesthetics of the moment. When life pours out poetry. When my body feels like slow jazz.
Is this what fuck it feels like this time around? How many times in this lifetime will I have to be reborn? How many different people can I possibly become? I am populated by a thousand different souls. They live and die on the page. I am only 35, and it feels like I have already lived and died a thousand times. And what do I have to show for it? A bottle of wine, a chicken dinner, and another new notebook.