If you’d like, I would like to invite you into my life. It has a daily quality that is terribly routine and perhaps mundane–the life of the mind does not thrive in chaos although it is often molded in that chaos to seek something more ordered.
When I was a young writer I basked within my suffering. Like a toxic romance there was a delicious flavor to life tinged by mistakes, failure and poor choices. I didn’t thrive on the creation of drama but rather, found that I attracted people into my life who could perform their dramas for me because I was tolerant of them. As I have gotten older I find myself capable of carving out a life that can care for the work I create. I feel like I have been writing forever. My mother was a writer until she gave up on it because she gave up on herself gambling on a daughter who she hoped would be capable of succeeding where she had failed. She told wonderful bed time stories. They were my favorites. But like many who suffer for their art she was a jealous artist who would take my adolescent reports for school and revise them as an editor until they were unrecognizable as my work. My father was a multi-talented artist who was apparently an expert in everything he touched and as a result it took many years before I would even attempt the venture into the studies he had already mastered. It was only steeped in this pain that I could live during my late teens and early twenties. Art and creation were inspiration and suffering. My suffering was derived from many places, not the least of which was the knowledge that I could only make something of myself if I could surpass the judgments of my parents who encouraged me by dismantling my efforts and showing me how I should have done things the first time around. As though their DNA within me should have granted me all of their knowledge and experience so that I could proceed in my efforts with perfect knowledge of the past but the energy of youth.
At some point in my late twenties and early thirties I faced the truth. It helped that I had lost people who were dear to me, that I had cut ties with family members and that I had failed enough times that the novelty of it no longer fueled suffering. At some point I couldn’t take the pain I’d been self-inflicting in the name of art. I had had the revelation that my life was a gift because there were others who I had lost who I loved more than myself, who I saw as infinitely more valuable to the world and as their precious lives slipped out of sight I understood that every day I had to honor them through my efforts. There remains a toxic perfectionism within me, it is a difficult quality to shed because like every sweet lie it tastes wonderful even as it has a sickening saccharine quality. But there is a path toward recovery inherent in the knowledge that this lie is not sustenance and it’s consumption is poison. Weaning myself off is laborious but not impossible.
I don’t write every day. This remains too difficult. Every day I make sure to wash my face and brush my hair before I face the day. I find it easy to become caught in the whirlwind of tasks and in the needs of those around me. After breakfast, after I get my husband, our dog and our cat ready for their day I take a walk, workout or allow myself to daydream. And then I start my day. Some days are for chores, others are for art and others are for writing. They rotate in no discernable pattern except that if I don’t write every three or four days I find that the heaviness within my mind has no proper release and I become terribly restless.
Writing takes a variety of forms. This blog is the most nerve wrecking because I am unsure of its purpose. I have a paper journal for private thoughts and drivel I know would put anyone to sleep. There are pieces of fiction that are my passion. There are other side projects that fulfill a variety of other interests and ambitions. But this blog simply exists. I should know my audience in order to place myself before them in an easily digestible fashion. But I suppose this exists for the joy of it.
Day to day my routine is simple. Wash my face and brush my hair. Feed the family. Have quiet time. Spend the rest of the day fitting in as much as I can. Feed the family. Wash my face and brush my hair.
The bits in the middle are variable sandwiched between a routine of self care coupled with connecting with those I love. Creating is no longer an act of escapism for me and I am unsure if this will result in success or failure in the long term. Perhaps I ought to be more ambitious, more hungry for success but there’s a delight in struggling to live the sublime beside the mundane.