Tuesday, May 7, 2013

chapter seven | productive citizenship of the world.

or, a stern self-talking-to regarding my creative slumps.

I am not always the best at being a real human being.

I try, and I think I present a rather good semblance of real-human-being-ness, but oftentimes my anxious inertia breaks through when I am alone and I find myself slumped on the couch -- one cat on each side -- thinking about how unhappy I am that I am not writing, or acting, or drawing, or painting, or making myself very important pretty little barrettes out of my closetful of antique and vintage millinery flowers and other exotic trims. I find myself thinking about these things, and moping over them, and furrowing my brow (which isn’t helping anything except the fine lines I find myself obsessing over on particularly tough well-I-guess-I’m-just-going-to-hate-everything-about-myself-today days) and doing nothing. Nothing, while there are words inside of me and expressive eyes inside my face and pencils and paints and more and more and more in my closets and my cabinets and library card catalogue drawers. I sit and I mope and I brow-furrow and perhaps I aimlessly reach to the left or to the right and scratch a furry purring head, but I do -- for all practical purposes -- NOTHING. And then I feel bad about that.

Well, Rebecca... Darling... today you are going to be a productive citizen of the world.1

Essays and chapters won’t write themselves, my dear. Sometimes it can feel that way, when you’re a couple glasses in or particularly manic or particularly inspired, but they really never do. Sometimes they never do more than at other times. Now is one of those times.

I would say, “You are your own worst enemy,” but that goes without saying. Because it goes on being said all the damn time. And it begins to mean nothing. And it is pointless.

Nobody will care about your beautiful thoughts or intentions or actions if they are not actually, well, actions. To create, one must act. One must get off the couch (or simply reach for one’s laptop... yes, Rebecca Darling, that is how easy it is) and reach for that paintbrush (real or proverbial) and spill yourself outward. Spill all that angst (when, oh when does the adolescent angst permanently go the way of adolescent pimples? does it ever?) and all those frustrations and all that sparkling hope into something real, something true. Put those hardworking eyebrow-furrowing muscles to good use. Furrow in earnest, Eyebrows2, furrow in deep concentration and lift in occasional satisfaction or surprise. Do anything but furrow aimlessly. Furrow with purpose. Furrow with passion.

I’m sure this is quite relatable, and I’m sure I am not alone in my difficulty with real-human-being-ness, but of course it is easy to feel alone. But it is easiest to feel alone when one gives in to sulks. When one is merely still; when one is not acting. 

And then once we begin to act, it is so easy to so quickly not feel alone anymore. Because when we create, we are creating our worlds for ourselves. Creating the worlds inside our heads. Making them - to some degree, to more of a degree than sitting and sulking on the couch - real.

Today I am going to be a productive citizen of the world. Today I am going to create.

1 This is one of my mantras. “Rebecca: go be a productive citizen of the world.” It applies mostly to waking up early, getting dressed in real clothes, exercising, making sure to eat enough food throughout the day, and working hard at the job that actually pays my bills; but here I use it for other, more complex, purposes.

2 I really do see my eyebrows as an extension of myself; as much of a window into my insides as my eyes are; possibly more. I did, after all, devote hours in front of the mirror one evening in eighth grade, training my right eyebrow to arch just as dramatically as Viven Leigh's in Gone with the Wind. My eyebrow arch is hard won and downright enviable, if I do say so myself. I'd like to think this is a life metaphor, but I'm afraid I'm not quite there yet.  

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