I’ve been enjoying my summer, but still sometimes I feel my head’s a bit scrambled and I can’t concentrate on any one thing. In my post on my Guerrilla Garden, I talked about being in a fallow period artistically.
One of the good things about keeping a journal is that I can track my moods much better. So I know I’ve been creating, even though I feel a bit scrambled. A few weeks ago I tried to do a self portrait with a scrambled mind:
Sometimes, I think this urge to create I have is just some kind of curse. Other people go about their lives, just living, not trying to capture a story, not trying to preserve, process and create things. They work, they play, they cry, they get on with it. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel I was slacking if I wasn’t creating something — a story, a journal, a piece of art. I have no desire to be a famous artist or writer (I once wanted to be a famous writer, but now my writing is a personal thing, and a way of turning my world into stories. Stories are how I make some fragile sense of the world.)
I do want to create and share. I feel that art, whatever form it takes, is a means of communication and bonding with others. I want to sell my art — we all need money. But I create because I have to. I get unhinged when I’m not working on a project.
So, when I feel adrift but that desire to create is still poking at me, asking why aren’t you working on something, and then not getting a clear idea of where to put my energy — it feels like I’m being harassed by my own mind and heart.
But recently, someone I know suffered the loss of a loved one and in his grief, missed a lot of work, and then lost his job. He had no creative outlet. I tried to get him to start keeping a journal or to draw or something creative. But he couldn’t. Anything he created was “crap” he said, and made him feel worse. He wanted his loved one back, he wanted his job back. There was nothing to do with the emotions that flooded his life. (He has found another job and is doing better now.)
My desire to be creative, my writing, art, scribbles, knitting, sewing, my re-imaginings, my hunger to find books that create stories out of grief, to see what art others have created, to look, to discover — all of these compulsions save me over and over. Even in the deepest dark of depression or on the melting wings of mania, I have something to hang on to. I have somewhere to put my emotions. It’s a blessing, not a curse — though it’s funny how one can feel like the other at times.
About a month ago, a friend offered to take me to the pool with her three times a week. For years, I did water aerobics and swam twice a week. Getting out of gravity and into the cool support of the water felt so good. It helped me with my transition from a walker to a wheelchair. I didn’t always like going, but I went.
After an ostomy surgery and my break-up with my husband, I felt I couldn’t keep it up. I was afraid and having trouble adjusting to my new ostomy situation. I never had a leak in the pool, but the paranoia was there, and I eventually let it stop me from swimming.
But now the desire to get out of gravity and float a bit overrides my fear. Besides, like most of the degenerative situations associated with my disability, I’ve grown used to it. It’s just a matter of taking proper care and using proper equipment.
So I’ve started swimming again.
Well, okay, I was most worried about how I looked in my suit. I don’t REALLY care, but that body image paranoia just rears it’s ugly head no matter how body positive I genuinely feel. I’m larger than I was when I bought my bathing suit, but it’s very stretchy. And I decided my rather large goddess belly was a good natural flotation device.
And once I got in the water
It exhausts me, of course, but that’s the weird thing about exercise, it wears you out but gives you energy at the same time.
I began to talk about my ideas with friends, sought advice on which ones to follow, what to concentrate on. I also started drawing in my visual journal. I hadn’t totally quit, but before it was mostly pencil sketches of the flowers on my porch and unfinished ideas.
So, I’m getting back in the habit, sort of, and ready to draw the daily adventures of a woman dealing with a degenerative illness, bi-polar disorder, and sometimes, unreasonable and unbridled delight — rolling around Memphis in my wheelchair, finding saints and sinners in my travels.
And taking the time to share.
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