Imagine a tough up-mountain trek towards an avalanche. Add to that inadequate supplies. And possibly an injured limb.
That pretty much describes how I feel as I plod along through the days pushing down the debilitating panic (how am I going to pay all these bills???) and not making any decisions with promises I couldn't keep (there are few things left to me, intangible such as integrity and I don't wish to gamble with them).
There are still small trickles of magic. Small surprises that buy me just a little bit more of time and breathing space. Never quite enough in the practical sense of Things but encouraging enough to show that my cause is not a lost one.
I am certain there is a book in this. And one day I will be reading from it reliving this part of my life when I was caught in the limbo of a crossroads and I wandered in many vicious circles before I found my way out.
I will say that what kept me strong was the tribe. Having found that precious group of people who are not just "people" or "friends" but kindred spirits. One of them, a writer, has captured the essence of our connectedness amidst the troubling hates and prejudices of the world today:
"I am not judged by the color of my hair or the size of my ass. They don't care how much money isn't in my checking account or what kind of car I drive. We connect with our creative hearts. That greater similarity is what glues us together. We would fight for each other's right to be true and whole."
When I look back the past nine months (and having counted thus I notice the potential significance of it, the pregnancy that preludes a birth), the tribe has been significantly instrumental in pushing the many small and big events that propelled my creative journey farther forward than it would have gone if I were simply alone. My courage was collective, and it was woven through with love and faith, genuine affection and understanding. You wonder how I know, how I can say this about people I have not even physically met. But let me say this as well, that I have more than three hundred "friends" in my Facebook network and I have met them face-to-face and have even spent years in close interaction with them, but only the barest handful have ever responded genuinely to my creative journey. I have called out and asked, as far as my introverted nature would allow, and as far as politeness and respect would allow, and most of those who answered back were people of two extremes -- those that I have really been truly kindred with from the beginning, and those whom I have the least expectations from because we never really had that much real-life interaction in the first place. Everyone else disappointed me to some degree. And then it also made me realise how much my life has changed that it is inevitable that the people and relationships that support it change. I do not hold grudges. I, too, am guilty of not responding enthusiastically to the posts that matter most to others (baby and children photos, exotic bucket list trips, retail therapy splurges, political rants, religious exhortations, to name a few). The simple fact is that the orbits of our lives have ceased to intersect, and the reality is that most of the relationships we build over time are really relationships of convenience. Extract yourself from a certain arena or hub and watch the relationships wither or drift away. Only the truest connections will remain, getting stronger through time and distance and growth.
Getting into new hubs is not easy either. Local culture values exclusivity despite declarations of openness and equality, In my cash-poor state it is not possible to participate frequently enough in the endless weekend events and workshops that would, hopefully, eventually snag one a demo engagement with a popular brand of art material (and result in a hundredfold increase in Instagram followers). At the same time, I am yet unable to produce my work in prints or products that could be considered for a shop consignment, or that could easily jump into pop-up-shop opportunities. I am a Jane Eyre, plain, poor and obscure, and I am a Lizzie Bennett, with no favourable connections nor status, triggering the instinct to reject from the likes of Mr. Darcy and his ilk.
I find my ways to spread my art where I can. And now I have come to the edge of the known possibilities and I am aching to go beyond it. There is only one step left to cover all bases with my old connections and I shall release them, in my mind, from any further expectation or hope. Then I need to find and forge new connections, those that are appropriate and nurturing to the path I walk now, the same way that my old connections were appropriate and nurturing to the path I was walking then.
It is not a visible thing, but the inner shift as I finally recognise the futility of throwing myself against the brick wall of old assumptions brings with it a kind of relief. Because I can stop now, and I can cut away the frustration that results from the failure, and I can clean away the poison of resentment that still manages to seep through. The change in perspective brings with it an expanded openness to alternative solutions, and a freedom from the constant wondering why I was not given help. I also accepted my own failures as a "friend" from a specific context, and thus learned valuable lessons on how to be a better one in another.