Creative projects are hard.
Campus Movie Fest ends tonight. The announcements and premiere are in a week. I wrote a lot of the script and helped with film shoots and editing whenever I could. I was extremely happy running around on a film set. Seriously. I hit that moment where I went, “OH, so THIS is my future job!” (And all you crazy people who cheer me on may be permitted a fond smirk here.)
I completely exhausted myself over art, which was awesome. I need to do that. I spent my Junior year of highschool with no writing or drawing, and I was lousy shape by the end of it. I go insane if I don’t create things. I’ve written only one paper so far that didn’t address life being a story this year. So why am I currently wishing I could cry for an hour and then sleep for another five? It’s because art is hard, and then art is hard on the artist. AP calls it “a postpartum funk.” I call it… Meh.
It goes away, it really does. Again, I’ve had this happen before. Sometimes it manifests in small ways, like worrying if you have anything left to say or all the stories have been told (terrifying). Sometimes it’s like every doubt and insecurity comes skanking along (I invent words to cheer myself up sometimes, get over it) and suddenly everything is hard. Everything is tiresome, and you’re small and adrift. At the same time the happiness of creating still lingers, and you end up with a dissatisfaction in everything, including the art you just made and your ability to function. Add sleep-deprivation and a lot of interaction and I’m ready to become a hermit while at the same time that I really, really want a long hug. Talk about a guilt complex further dramatized by overanalyzation.
I’m a Studio Arts major with two engineers for parents. Problem-solving and analysis is the way that I like to tackle things. It’s safer. Unfortunately, problem-solving something as insoluble as an emotion or what-ifs is pretty ineffective. Almost hilariously so. You end up overcompensating with logic for a while, and feeling awful because emotions and essence aren’t working right, and…yeah, you get the point. Emotions are valid, after all – just not always attuned to reality. Guiding them is better than squashing them, and shaping them by what you tell yourself definitely helps.
A little more than a month later. Postpartum funk hit with a week of depression at the end of the semester. It happens after a high (did I mention I like school, generally?) and I know my mood will swing around. I also compounded it because I didn’t exactly take my own advice about emotions in the past month. Hah. They blew up again, but sometimes life blows up and you just sort of have to ride it out.
This week when I walked into a movie theater with my eleven year old brother, and then earlier today in a conversation with another friend I wondered if I really was in the right career field. I’m not competitive except in sports, really (the occasional surprise twinge of jealousy and and frustration when I lose stem from other issues). I picked a field where I have to watch my head or people will eat me alive. You have to guard your opportunities, I’m told, or it’ll be yanked right out from under you. Doesn’t that sound pleasant. And I thought I was going to tell stories all day, not get the intrigue I desired when I wanted to be a spy.
Art is certainly a tightrope.
Italia is full of the rises and surges of artists, and a thousand silent falls. The streets are mingled with the pleasant and the dangerous amongst a library of buildings, old gold-leafed books right against shiny new paperbacks. Like every other city, there are the razor threads of a con to tread along.
When you travel, you learn to look everywhere all the time. At train stations, at the depot, just walking through the city–it’s a hyperfocus. Details are absorbed and processed – who ran into you? Who is behind you? Names run through your brain and slip away like gritty sand as you absorb details constantly. It becomes part of your programming for a while, but it can be exhausting. Or ineffective if you’re tired enough.
News flash: mission trips are usually exhausting.
Additional news flash: I get tired. (Apparently this is news to some people.)
So tired, in fact, that I’m usually somewhat blundering around but conscious that I’m not fully functioning and at the same time quite conscious that I do not want to get lost in the airport, or at the bus station, or in general. I can also mostly sleep standing up, but terrified still isn’t a word to fit the situation.
I’m too tired to be fully conscious, though.
In the blur of faces and lights shifting around me like a raw video feed, I hold on to my Daddy’s backpack. It’s Swiss Army Gear he’s had for as long as I can remember, but the top handle is still attached quite firmly, worn and slightly grungy as it may be. I lock my fingers around that, and I never get lost or left behind. I’m safe, I know I’m not by myself, and I keep moving. I don’t know exactly where I’m going, but I am sure of the destination. I just move my feet.
“Great artists aren’t great because they paint, they’re great because they paint a lot.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay called “Self-Reliance” once, and the world wrote a thousand songs about dependency on love. These ideas stuffed themselves into the books shoveled into backpacks, and into the over-analyzations of a thousand minds. Dichotemies are grand to philosophize upon, extremes trying to be brought into rationalization. The subsurface matters, and the books in your backpack: they shape your eyes for the adventure, but the walking is muscle memory – sometimes conscious with delight, sometimes weary with fatigue. You can bet your life on textbooks or fingerpainting, mountains or the sea…but it really matters what you lock your fingers around.
It matters what you bet your life on.
[Header/footer image by perronjeremie on Pixabay.]