February has been an incredibly difficult one for me: creatively, financially and psychologically.
A lot of this was lourded over by the "financial" (having to replace both sets of brakes on the car started the terror-ball rolling, but alas it was only the beginning.) Really once the money demons have you it's hard to break free, and this time, for me, they really colored all the other aspects of my life. (I'm not proud of that, but what can you do.)
Add to that a population's insistence that the personal facebook feed is where one spews unchecked, unchallenged, unquestioned hate, and you're in for a world of unhelpful thinking. I think last month more than anything has pointed out to me that there is a whole lot of social media that is unhelpful, maybe even destructive without meaning to be.
I am fortunate as I have two roads into the internet -- the personal and the professional. But the professional road can be just as bad when you're sunk. I think people sometimes lose sight of the fact that when you are struggling -- in whatever way -- it can be hard to run up against the brick wall of fixed smiles that is the professional brag-a-thon. Awards, admirable gigs, travels to romantic places, travels to difficult places, casual rubbing-of-the-shoulders with people who haven't answered your emails, new homes.
These are one-sided displays, and deep down I do know that. These snippets never dwell on the whole story, the real story. The sleepless nights before the work was completed. The tears when the pressure built. The lost luggage. The troubling noises in the hotel parking lot that kept you up at night. The missed train and impromptu, nervous hours pacing up and down a strange station, surrounded by signs in a language you meant to learn but didn't. The over-analysis of your art director's off-handed comment. The new home that is a downsize.
So there's nothing for it but to keep going. And sometimes that means doggedly marching forward into the abyss with no expectations. It's the no expectations that's key -- I've been revisiting a lot of my Buddhist texts again, because there's something encouraging about those constant urges to let go and renounce judgement. At some point that sunk feeling turns into something else.
Because in all honestly it's also been an incredible month in terms of getting a grip on what actually matters, what doesn't matter. I haven't quite mastered the mindset of this is a great opportunity to practice my coping, my patience, my resilience, but I suspect that takes a lifetime to really get hold of. And there have been moments of absolute clarity on this front, and that's been reassuring.
My life is a like a huge board of faders, and I am looking at what can be turned down so that the art can turned up even higher. Focus, focus, focus.
Here's some stuff that's been helping, should you find yourself in a spot like this:
Maria Popova's recent entry on Brain Pickings about creative block.
This incredibly timely TED Radiohour digest of simple happiness
And of course, re-listening to Pema Chodron's "Getting Unstuck" and "True Happiness".