It’s not that I don’t have things to write about. I do. And it’s not that I can’t think of the words to say what I want to say. I can. It’s that the thread connecting one idea to the next, the topic to its conclusion, is running thin. The power that makes the light bulb bright is running low. Some people call it high standards, perfectionism, and that’s a way of describing the traits that this problem shares with a million other similar problems. The real problem is that I know what a Problem Machine post looks like, and I don’t have the wherewithal to engineer that right now.
That’s fine. Maybe that’s good, even. Maybe my fatigue with the post I know I would write will lead me to the post I didn’t know I could write.
I want to make things. Things that last. I don’t know if that’s just another struggle for immortality, a trite practice of a species of rotting meat-beings. I’m jealous of those who can pour themselves into the arts of the transient, the chefs who know the destiny of their work is to be destroyed and thence forgotten, the actors whose performances are likewise consumed, stagecraft impermanent, songs that die with their singers – is that a way to feel more wholly the pure joy of creation? To create a moment instead of a history, to be the fire instead of the page?
I spend a lot of time looking back over my old work. I have defined myself by its creation, dropping pieces like pebbles, trying to mark the distance I’ve moved. I can’t imagine not having that for myself. Who would I be? How would I know how to be that me?
So maybe my creation constrains itself. There’s a danger in pretending we know the artist through their work, yes, and maybe that danger is most potent for the artist. The self we see as the person who created our art supersedes the true self, the happy accidents of our paintings becoming a self portrait that we wear over our face while our original face ages to dust in an attic.
I need to push myself to be uncomfortable – not just pain or sadness, because certain kinds of pain and sadness are engraved in our skulls, become familiar. Sometimes we need to make ourselves uncomfortable by abandoning the familiar agonies and tragedies, by being open to more. I saw a movie today, and there was a line, “you must feel sadness without becoming sad,” and I thought, “how familiar. That’s how I feel most of the time.”
It’s just a matter of how you construct yourself. The room in my head is painted grey and blue and it’s raining outside of it, and that’s fine. It doesn’t make me sad to be there, even if it is a sad place. But my point is, even scars form a blanket, and to create something new we have to step out from under that.
I don’t know how to do that. I hope I can learn. I might need help. I guess everyone needs help to learn how to be anything besides who they are: Even if we find ourselves changing against our will, someone else was responsible for pulling that anchor, shaking that trajectory.
I hesitate to change, not knowing which parts of me I want to keep and which I don’t. Well, how could I? A hermit crab doesn’t know if the next shell will be any good, all it knows is the one it’s in now is getting cramped.