overhaul / undertow

Friday, August 27, 2004

Important realization:

I was reading this book on creativity, and in the first chapter it instructed me to put it down (yes, it told me to put itself down) and to think about what my creative dream was.

This is hokey, but I did it.

I stopped buying feel-good airy-fairy self-help dreck years ago, after I realized I'd dedicated my bookshelf to volumes upon volumes telling me how I should do things different, better, with highly effective habits: I threw every last self-help book away. I was sick of trying to fix myself: how about just accepting myself as I was, I thought?

Of course I did no such thing, but at least I freed up a shelf for new books, which was nice.

These days I figure maybe I should suck it up after all and read a few books that have advice. After all, it can't quite be said I don't need any right now.

So I put the book down and walked into the laundry room here at my folks' house to put the undies on the rinse cycle, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: my creative dream is to love and to be loved.

All these years I've been thinking, I'm a writer, I'm a painter; and I should dedicate myself to those dreams, and I had visions of myself lonely and a drunk in a house somewhere writing and painting and feeling hopeless and alone and lonely. I had my dream, and I had my creativity, but somehow I'd bought into the lie that an artist cannot simultaneously be successful AND sane enough to have a loving, fulfilling relationship. I'd think of fulfilling my artistic dreams and feel....deflated. Me alone in a house. How fun.

How dissappointing. How heartbreaking. No wonder I always felt like my dreams weren't big enough, or worthwhile enough: they really WEREN'T enough. Not to make me happy.

Sometimes I am retarded. Why did I sell myself short?

Why did I go along for years--I mean, since childhood--thinking, "You're just not really made for happiness." Now, I can understand "I'm not cut out for ice hockey," "I just won't ever really be a professional mathematician," -- but "I'm not cut out for joy?!!?" What the hell?!!?

What if I could be happy AND an artist? Have a loving relationship AND write, AND paint, AND do whatever--all with someone who loved me there?

now THAT sounds like a dream worth reaching for.

It's good, I think, when you are feeling shitty and miserable, to install good dreams hanging there above the path you envision for your future. I was at the bookstore tonight buying that darn book itself, and I turned to the rack next to me while standing in line, and a bookmark in purple leather read:

Dreams are necessary for life.

The first book I ever read that inspired me to write--to really write with love and passion and feeling--was Anais Nin's Collages. I'd never read anything so evocative, lyrical, and beautiful: the book made me dream.

The little bookmark had quoted Nin.

Maybe I'll be ok.


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