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Take Two

Almost halfway into Week Two of the new year and I am wildly unprepared. Saturday and Sunday were errand days and all I wanted to do upon getting home was rest. And I rested for most of those remaining hours, my soul muscles shaking with their own inner exhaustion. The errands themselves were not that taxing. But what has been beginning to build up upon me is the lack of my own personal space that is not easily intruded into by noise and other people’s tsunamis of energy (negative ones tend to be especially stronger).

In any case, I’m trying again this week. It’s a Monday. And I would like to try to claim Mondays for myself, and officially start my “work” week on Tuesday, and set a 4-day “work” week. And then begin to design a life with a chapter called “My Mondays” which will be the opposite of all the Mondays I hated and dreaded for all of my life.

Today I want to fix the studio again. Clutter has accumulated, and some cleaning is due. I need to make space for writing on one of the tables. I need to make space for the new art pieces I’ve been meaning to start for the past five days.

There are also things I need to write down and work through. Questions that need clarity to find answers.

I dressed up a bit when I woke up this morning. I needed to simulate an “on” switch to my morning habits to stir up my own energy. Instead of the usual super comfy clothes, I wear in the house I put on simple going-out clothes. Still comfy but comfy-awake not comfy-nap.

Last night before sleep I was thinking that I should be thinking more concretely about the art shop and where it’s going and how. I need to do something to it to send a clear signal that it’s not just a regular art shop selling paintings. I have to make what makes my creative work distinct and original come out and shine.

The other day I had long conversations with my sister that brought to light some disturbing truths about certain things I do externally which are rooted in something internal that urgently needs changing. At the core is about fear of success because of what others will think and say.

I have been trying to keep myself “pleasant” and “understandable” instead of going all out to claim my success and actually living the life I dream of. Hence I dim my own light, I hold back, I temper, I do extra nice so as not to be misunderstood as having become unreasonable or arrogant because of what I am able to do that is out of the mainstream and expectations of others. I have been endlessly apologising in countless ways for the way I live and for the choices I have made. I am invalidating my own life by always making excuses for it for being the way it is, thereby essentially saying “I know it’s not the right way to live but…”

If I were to be honest, I have made remarkable progress in pursuing the life I want despite the many other aspects of outer reality that seem to contradict it. But I keep pulling myself back and adding so many dead weights, with guilt being one of the largest chunks. I keep hobbling myself so I won’t be that hateful person who somehow got away with doing what she wants while the everyone else will go on to die toiling and stuck with a life we all wish we could change into something else.

I am also afraid because I fear a payment due. Because at the heart of myself there is a belief that I don’t deserve the life I want and if I were to live it then I would have to pay, and dearly. Like I can’t be too happy or too fortunate. So I reassure people that no, I actually have a rather miserable life. Yes I have the good strokes of luck but I have a streak of the bad too — see? See?

I should have written all this on Saturday night but I didn’t so I was restless all of Sunday because all these thoughts and truths were sloshing around inside me, drowning me. Because once I write them down I know I have to change them, and I have to change.

When I fix my inside, all the outside will follow. That has always been the rule. That has always been how it is. It’s why there are stories of the richest men being unhappy and the poorest man being joyful. The outer rules only matter as much as I let them. Perhaps I will encounter more resistance and challenges than someone who is prettier, younger, thinner, and more connected but what will make a difference at the end is how well I overcome. We also know of beautiful successful people who in the end commit suicide or get into drugs and alcohol and eventually ruin all they have achieved. The externals can only do so much to destroy us or even to make us.

I have been heeding the call to be an artist for the past eight years but I keep failing on sustaining it to full blooming. I have to believe that the end is more life instead of death. Or that any death at the end is a beginning of a new life and I must not be afraid to live it, to claim it, to become it.

I must not apologise for living my life as authentically as I am able to.

But whether small or great, and no matter what the stage or grade of life, the call rings up the curtain, always, on a mystery of transfiguration–a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand. (Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces)
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