Yesterday I pushed myself to stay in the studio and keep cranking things out past the point of controlled trials to see what would come up beyond chartered territory. I was exhausted, but pleased with the results, but exhausted . . . and this morning I was hit with a dread that I have now given all I have to give. Like, that’s it. This is what I’ve been waiting to do for so long, but that’s all there is. What if I’ve been holding onto my procrastinated, possible, potential, un-produced dream of singing freely like a hoard of hand sanitizer, but now that I’m starting to give it out, I am left unprotected in a precarious position. What if I had eight good days of explorations and experiments, but that’s it, and now I go back home with no secret stash to keep me in the protected place I know as myself.
So that went on until around noon, but I’ve worked through Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way enough times over the years that a crop of healthy responses poked their perky heads out of the mire I was wallowing in, like, “You’re being dramatic. You’re tired and have been putting more out than you have been putting in. Don’t expect to have unlimited ideas and energy unless you feed yourself with the good daily things of life that you love.” So that was helpful. Also, “You woke up to multiple bad news about a few different things and you might actually just be sad. Feel it but don’t stay there.” Also helpful.
I was just telling my friend Anne yesterday when we played together about a funny moment during a ten-day silent meditation retreat I did a few years ago when I suddenly realised – probably also around day eight or nine of that retreat – that I actually wanted to hold onto all my mental junk instead of letting it go because I was afraid of losing my personality. I thought that if I truly released the hang-ups, bitternesses, resentments, limitations and griefs that I had been carrying for so long, I would turn into a bland beige sort of shadow of my former self with no sense of humour and nothing to distinguish me from anyone else. Today’s feeling of dread that I now have nothing left inside because I have started sharing what I was previously hoarding is similar. Who am I if not blocked and inhibited? What if the last few days of digging and exploration and development have been a great, but that I now have no fuel to move forward from here?
What do you do when you get close to the bottom of a pile of junk? Keep cleaning and enjoy the space (ideally). What do you do when you let go of your death grip on the shore and start to float out in the water? Float out in the gentle current and enjoy the ride (we’re in a boat in this metaphor). What do you do when you run out of reasons to stay locked up inside? Run out, and see where your feet take you.