Have you ever had that moment of lucid insight where you suddenly realise that you have quite a lot to say, that it really needs to be said, for the salutary warning of all those likely to fall into the same traps you did and yet you realise that the task of saying it all and putting it out there is absolutely monumental?
Where do you start? How will you ever find the time, energy, space, money, clarity of thought and devotion to complete the task? How will you sustain yourself, keeping body, mind and soul together, while you create that art? Where will you find the courage to wrestle with and confront difficult, disturbing, discomforting, disquieting matters, while clarifying their significance and expounding upon them in your art? What will dull that nagging sense that, even on the completion of the work, it will be met with indifference, if noticed at all? What if there is ultimately no point to your struggle?
I guess it is like anything whose pressure builds up to the point of extreme. Eventually, it bursts and the trapped matter issues forth. There is something volcanic about it. You resist committing your life to the project until it becomes impossible to contain. You don’t, until you no longer can’t. Your frustration with the fact that you have something worth saying, but cannot say it all, grows to the point where you just have to blurt it all out, as best you can.
Maybe I am getting close to that point. The distractions feel much more annoying than they did before. The indolence in front the keyboard seems that much more futile. I get impatient with the ignorance of perfectly nice people who don’t know any better and grumpy at the state of a world I know I can contribute to changing for the better, if only I would do the work. Why can’t they just see what I can see? Why do I have to explain it to them, with clarity and evidence? Why are they forcing me into having to do this?
The bubble is beginning to get to the point of bursting. People keep telling me I have to get this done. I know it in my heart. All that said, taking the first step is still extremely daunting. It’s the first step to falling down a mountain, out of control, unable to control the pace or route, with a likely disastrous outcome. The momentum will overcome any attempts to resist.
Do I have the courage, stamina and commitment for this? Perhaps I don’t, but then I’ll only launch myself into this project at the point that containing the rage becomes so much harder than the alternative of acquiescing. Doing nothing, when you know you should do something, is not cost free. It robs you of your peace of mind and stamina too. Regrets poison a lifetime. Remaining committed to avoiding the whole project is just as difficult and just as arduous as tackling it. It takes deliberate effort to ignore what you know you should do.
I understand that this could sound oh so arrogant and self important. Self sacrifice sounds so much like the self-satisfaction and self-aggrandisement of a martyrdom addict. Maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t. It’s not for me to judge. All that will be judged will be the work, if it ever gets to exist. I imagine pregnancy to be a little like this feeling.
I’m looking to my heroes for answers. How did they withstand the demands their essential projects placed on them? How did they keep the madness at bay? How did they survive it? Maybe they felt they had no choice, that the gun was at their head and that this was their last chance. I feel that too. Maybe they were able to divorce themselves from worldly concerns entirely and immerse themselves fully in the creative realm of their own making. Maybe they kept going because that was the only option they had. Maybe it’s the only choice I really have.
It might be the case that my belief that I can ignore it all and keep living my life, as if situation normal, is a self-delusion. Maybe once the insight has taken up residence in your mind, the only thing you can do is get it out there in your art. I’ve had false starts before – many of them. Somehow, the brewing storm subsides, but only temporarily. The fury returns, amplified. The longer I don’t, the more the frustration of not committing to it grows.
My world will be turned upside down and inside out, by this thing of my own making, resident only in my imagination and conscience. Those around me will be profoundly affected, too. It’s a big moment. It’s a crossroads, with unknown destinations signposted. I admit I am afraid. Afraid of going down the obvious road, for fear that I don’t know where it ultimately leads, but equally afraid of continuing to travel the route I’ve been on, for fear of knowing exactly where that road goes.
Of course the meta-project – the talking about the project, rather than actually doing the project, is an avoidance tactic, too – pure displacement activity. It’s perversely designed to fill the time with creating meaning about meaning, without actually creating the real meaning. This blog post is a prime example of it. For that I apologise – to you and to myself.
Wish me luck and grant me the courage to make the turning.