I haven’t been as consistent about posting as I promised myself I would be when I wrote last. I have worked on stuff, I just can’t bring myself to finish it. It’s not funny enough, it’s too serious, it’s too goofy, it’s shoddily constructed. I think the issue with it all is that it’s not just train-of-thought. Everything I’d written up-to-and-including my little “I’m sick and it makes me sad” meltdown was stream of consciousness. Nothing I’ve been working on since is.
I want to be interesting. I want to say something fascinating and provocative that will capture a reader and make you think and pass it along. Nothing that I have been trying to write has accomplished that because I don’t think I can just make that happen.
I’m a stream-of-consciousness kind of person, in everything I do. Maybe it’s part of being creative. I finish tasks in my own way and my own time. For most things, I can’t perform perfectly on command (much to both my chagrin and that of employers – although I never do a shoddy job). It’s tough to explain to people – that I have whole days where I’m just not on. I mean, everyone does, but I think I’m a little more inconsistent that your average bear.
And that’s alright with me. I’ll probably grow into it more – I already have. It’s part of what makes me who I am and part of my creative process. Often when I’m about to write a song or come up with a new concept for a piece of knitting (yup, I knit – both yarn and less conventional materials) or write something more prolific than my usual blog post, I am a broody dysfunctional mess until I get it out the way it needs to be out. I can’t get sentences to come in order, I can’t carry a conversation, I can barely drive my car.
I always thought I would come to understand myself and know which box I fit in: an office, a recording artist, a manager, a player, a teacher, a writer. I would figure out which shoebox fit me the best and settle myself into it and my broodiness would disappear or at least be compatible with my new niche. If something didn’t fit me well it was because I just hadn’t tracked down my box yet. I was trying to force a square peg through a round hole; I just had to keep trying shapes until one fit.
But I’ve been realizing lately that this is a lie I’ve grown up telling myself, and likely being told. It’s not that I haven’t found the right box; I just don’t do boxes very well. I can flit in and out of them and tolerate their rigid, rectangular walls for short bursts, but I can’t survive in one.
When I was a kid, I caught a peeper toad and tried to keep it in a Tupperware with holes in the lid. I gave it water and leaves and sticks and terraformed the makeshift tank with everything I had seen in it’s natural environment [sic: my front yard]. But in an hour the peeper had blanched white and my mother insisted I release it back to the wild. It hopped away; relieved, happier, and the proper color. It hadn’t mattered that I had recreated it’s habitat in my box – it was the box itself that was sickening it.
I am a peeper. (Is that a weird statement? I don’t care! Your social boxes are nothing to me.) I can’t live in a tupperware. I need the wild, untamed openness around me, even if that wilderness is really just someone’s front yard. I need to create my own structure, my own way of making things work, just like the peeper makes it’s own very un-box-like burrow (I think, I don’t know what they do with their free time).
I’m not happy with the box. It doesn’t work for me and, frankly, I don’t think it works for a lot of people. But it’s very hard to refuse it altogether, to say no to rectangles and walls. And maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we just need to make a round box for ourselves. I don’t know. I’m figuring it out as I go. But at least I understand that I need something other than your standard shoebox.
At the heart of me, I’m an artist. Not in the sense that I make especially beautiful or insightful things – I’m still in the childhood of my creativity. I am an artist in the sense that I am driven to create. I am pulled to absorb the world, much slower and more deeply than some, and reflect it back – in music, in word, in art, in fiber. If I have to build a box, I will build it around that. It will be strange colors and asymmetrical and rambling and constantly changing. It will be startling and uncomfortable to look at and fascinating all at once. It will be a suit of armor tailored to my form. It will have space for all the pieces of me.
I am struggling to release myself into the wild of my front yard. I’m clinging to the walls of my tupperware in confusion as I try to shake myself out. But, slowly and surely, I’m accepting the unbounded and uncertain tracts of grass are wonderful. Are right.
Off to build my burrow (probably).