There is no art and there hasn’t been in quite a while.
I can’t make myself “do” art. I end up staring at a piece of paper, tools, lino…whatever, spend four hours trying to “do” art, and end up throwing the thing away.
The regimented push-pull of my days have become so extreme (with mom’s recovery from her broken hip, with my relationship with Robert and my children, with my must-do-art-and-not-just-any-old-art-meaningful-art mindset, with finances, cats, housesitter, house, Trump, a burning planet, isolation, disillusionment) that I was just managing to hold it together without tearing myself apart.
And then, a routine mammogram revealed a shadow.
One more week of tension while I waited for further testing, a couple more days of tension while I waited for results.
Turns out the shadow is a fibroid which attached itself to some tissue.
Then, relief, tears, a crisis of the soul.
I tried to keep it together. I tried just to pick up the broken pieces of my soul and carry on.
So here at the cabin in my fortress of solitude, (read: no electricity, no phone signal, no landline), I stare into my eyes rimmed red and blue, and grey with undereye bags.
I’ve felt disconnected to art for the past year – indifferent and empty around it. I did not care what I painted or printed or drew. It was like being out of love.
But there’s a deeper problem which underpins all of that and it has to do with subjugation.
I walk for miles along the railroad tracks thinking about how to take care of myself in the pursuit of freedom. I bemoan the long labour littered with incremental successes and failures. The freedom I’m imagining has no form, no prescriptive path. I can’t get it if I’m better at art, smarter with my money, get a job, quit a job, lose weight. People think about freedom as lightness, liberation, but I think it’s really quite heavy. The heft of absolute personal responsibility.
So many of life’s choices are simulated for us. Encoded in the shimmering illusion of choosing from the complex bastions of culture; fashion, religion, politics, the wellness industry…These forms tell us what to look like, what to believe, who to vote for, etc, and it’s a lighter way to be in the world. And it feels safe, tribal, comforting.
Real freedom is terrifying and dangerous because it opens a chasm into unlimited potential repercussions.
Also, it turns out that knowing what one wants and choosing for oneself is quite hard.
Time passing is the only way to sort it out.
As I write now, (days later), I see where I want to go. I think about the power of solitary, of ambiguity, of limitlessness. This is supposed to be the way to soul healing, but it’s hard to talk about. It’s a slippery fish.
Book read: The Book of Help: A Memoir in Remedies by Megan Griswold
Audiobook: Practical Deamonkeeping by Christopher Moore