January 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm (happiness)

It seems to me that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube—and just so you don’t think this is a generational thing, TV and radio and magazines and even newspapers, too—are all ultimately just an elaborate excuse to run away from yourself. To avoid the difficult and troubling questions that being human throws in your way. Am I doing the right thing with my life? Do I believe the things I was taught as a child? What do the words I live by—words like dutyhonor, and country—really mean? Am I happy? …

The very rigor and regimentation to which you are quite properly subject here naturally has a tendency to make you lose touch with the passion that brought you here in the first place. I saw exactly the same kind of thing at Yale. It’s not that my students were robots. Quite the reverse. They were in­tensely idealistic, but the overwhelming weight of their practical responsibilities, all of those hoops they had to jump through, often made them lose sight of what those ideals were. Why they were doing it all in the first place.

“Solitude and Leadership” by William Deresiewicz

Something I worry about when I let my mind get to wanderin’ is whether I am still here at all.  Is this program, which has been nipping at my heels constantly since the beginning of September, not keeping me busy but instead just an excuse not to think?  I find it absurdly difficult to take the tenets of this program (so rosy!  “we’re going to change the world!  we’re leaders!”) seriously.  I find it absurdly difficult to take anything seriously.

I never take myself seriously.  I especially never take my craft seriously, and that’s really my biggest concern.  Can I survive the remainder of my life ignoring my craft and my desires?  Frankly, I probably can. More than probably.  It’s natural to me, and I’m too goddamned “sensible” to keep myself from pushing art to the wayside.  I like to push myself to the wayside, like my own thoughts and my own emotions are worthless.  As though they prevent me from moving forward.  But shouldn’t I have the mentality that my craft is an aspect of my life’s work, just as is working performances or updating a website?  And that paying attention to myself and thinking critically is just like studying for an exam or editing a press release?

The nature of my employment should actually foster this sort of activity.  I’m working for a small, innovative, and forward-thinking arts organization that should be spending at least some of its time cultivating some original and alternative thinkers.  I don’t feel that way very often.  More frequently, I just search for the best answer I can find in the smallest amount of time and do it.  And try desperately to do it well.  I feel an underlying desire within my work to have these conversations about art and about life and about death and everything else, as though everyone can feel the importance of altering our mental framework.  But the fact is that we have bills coming in every day, and we have to write up contracts, and engage in partnerships, and write snappy little eblasts.  How can we balance?

How seriously should I take myself?  How seriously should I take my work?  How can I take things seriously without becoming depressed or having some type of nervous breakdown?  How do I know what’s important?  How do I exist?  How do I manage everything while still managing to exist?

I think the last question is the most important, and the most difficult.  It has always been my system to allow myself to disappear in favor of completing tasks and being able to function in general.  But the more and more I delve into meetings and websites and other people’s art, I forget about the art of being myself.  I forget about tending to myself–not only do I not eat well or sleep very much, but also I forget that there is even a “me” inside to tend to.  I forget to make sure I sit alone in an armchair by the window with a cup of coffee.  I forget to make sure that I explore knitting or sewing.  I forget to make sure that I discover and cook new recipes.  I forget to read books and take walks and make photos and look at other people’s art.

I think the fact that I ignore my own creativity and don’t take it seriously is because I am unconfident in it as a whole.  My craft does not make it to the forefront of my to do list because it’s not as important or as “real” as my other work.  If I don’t believe that I will ever publish, then there’s no sense of urgency.  I don’t have to focus my time on myself or my own work–what does it matter?  I’m just doing it for fun.  For something silly to do on the side.  And while I don’t know that I ever want to make writing my life’s work, it’s more than just a silly side thing.  It’s a cathartic experience that sometimes is required for me to exist.  Sometimes I know there is something underneath my fingers and inside my bones that I have to get out.

But when I’m rambling on and on about HOW DEEP MY WRITING IS–am I even fucking saying anything at all?

Does writing more make me more real?  Does writing long and rambly paragraphs all about myself increase the fuzzy reception of my little silhouette?  Or does it just turn up the static, feel like white noise grating across my body?

I don’t know anymore, in all honesty.  All I know is that in the process of this 10-month program, I have begun immersing myself so closely in things that are important but things that are making me lose myself.  I am lost; and don’t know if I shall ever return.


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