I’m in bed, typing. Caitlin is working beside me. We’re listening to Jefferson Airplane. We had a busy weekend dog sitting Missy-Misdemeanor, visiting the Olympic Peninsula, and attending a greyhound meetup at Discovery Park.
I had a long conversation with Mariah on her boat after I dropped Missy off. We talked about future plan and how we both go through cycles—moments of restlessness that push us to pack up everything, move, and start over. These cycles range in scale. Sometimes it’s just switching from one hobby to another; other times it’s moving to another part of the country.
However, there is another type of cycle, closely related to the above cycle. It’s like a more-stable, non-pathological version of bipolar disorder—periods of hypomania followed by minor depression. Mini-obsessions followed by a period of disillusionment. Over and over again (in increasingly larger concentric circles, it seems). I have cultivated this cycle, made it more stable—tempered it.
I would like a name for these cycles, this inhalation and exhalation, this creation and fall.
Toward the end of a cycle, I experience a particular, uncomfortable feeling. I also want a name for this feeling; that way, I can identify it more easily when it comes up. (This feeling also presents itself somewhat at random.) Here we go:
After a period of creativity, I begin to experience a feeling. The feeling tells me that I must, must, must do something, for stillness is complacency, and complacency is death. But this feeling becomes toxic and soul crushing; as if it were the inevitable corruption a creative urge. I begin to lose focus and inspiration. Yet, I still feel the desperate need to continue working. But as time goes on (hours, day, or weeks), the work, the project, the creation becomes less and less fulfilling, and the feeling becomes more desperate and painful. Then the creative urge runs the risk of shattering, a painful experience.
I have found a simple, effective, yet extremely frustrating solution to this problem. The solution is to rest. The challenge here is that the solution is the opposite of the feeling/impulse. The impulse is to work, but the solution is to rest.
In times like these, one must fight to rest.
Here, resting is not relaxing. Here, rest is a fight to pause—to forcefully compel the mind, soul, and body to stillness.
This stillness is uncomfortable, painful. It carries somewhat-pure, rather-distilled, elements of human suffering and the tragedy of life; (these feelings are often times not grounded in one’s life and seem to have a life of their own). (Pick your religious metaphor—Christ on the Cross, Buddha under the Tree, Odin Hanging, Prometheus having his liver plucked out by vultures, Sisyphus watching his boulder roll down the hill once again.)
How much time have a wasted trying to be better than I really am?
How many times have I taken my picture and tried to be more beautiful by straining and contorting my face?
How many times have I sat at the keyboard and internally begged, why, why, why can I not write more clearly, more cleverly, more wittily, and more swiftly?
When are we at our (pathetic) best? When?
When there is an unresolvable conflict, a tension of opposites (e.g. an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, or a Catch-22), one of two things happens: the forces cancel each other, or there is transcendence, the creation of a third, greater thing, a gestalt. The nature of the latter is life’s most precious mystery, the stuff of alchemy, and the false hope of religion.
There are many things that can be said whose opposite is also true; these paradoxes mark the edge of one paradigm and the beginning of another.
What I was as a young man, that is, who I was, was totally disconnected from what I felt I was. It\’s such a broad thing to say. Useless without elaboration. I don\’t have the heart to go into detail right now.