Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I Live Here Now, Part 6
A few weeks ago I woke up one Saturday morning and the moment my eyes opened I felt extreme doubt. It washed over me, confused my thinking and turned my stomach. This is not a new thing for me. It happens every time I make a new body of work for a big show, and at this point, I'm not surprised by it. However, I'm also never prepared for it. What happens in the following days is pretty much terrible for me. I become nearly paralyzed in the studio and it's hard to focus, to motivate and to move my hands. I have this strange feeling of no longer knowing what I'm doing. I don't know my ideas or my intentions. I look at the work and my plans and I question their validity, their strength. I cry a lot. I also can't eat and I don't sleep well. It feels awful. It's the worst.
I don't often talk about my struggles here and I don't know exactly why. It's not because I don't have them or because I don't want anyone to know. I think I like keeping things positive here as much as possible. But, after this last bout with doubt I realized I wanted to talk about it a little bit. Doubt, uncertainty and fear are all things I feel often and most of the time I'm able to keep them in a healthy place. I see them as these creatures that hang out behind me, all the time. They help to keep me grounded. They help keep the balance. However, there is this moment when I've been working really hard and pause ever so slightly, and they climb up my back and sit on my shoulders. Then they noisily stick around, indefinitely.
So what do I do to battle them? The first few days I tend to just feel so bad I can't do anything, or I do very little. Then survival kicks in and I realize the only way to get through it is to work. Work. No matter how hard it is to physically pick up a tool or how challenging it is to think about the next step in an idea, I must work. At first it's awkward and clunky, but slowly it gets easier, and slowly, those creatures quiet down. They don't go away, but they do get quiet. Then I find my rhythm again and I just keep going.
I had a great conversation with my brother about this and I said something like, "I just have to keep working. What else am I going to do?" To which he replied, "Like a shark." He said it in a way that made me laugh. Then he said, "You gotta keep swimming."
Well said, Mark.
Thanks for reading.