Friday, December 15, 2017

Darkness. Balance. Transformation.

There is beauty, too, in the starkness of winter. 

This isn't something I don't already know.

It's not something that I haven't been through numerous times before.

It's not even particularly revelatory or interesting.

It just is.

The ability to be sensitive to emotions and subtle changes around me is both a blessing and a curse. It's what fuels my creativity, but it also triggers anxiety and depression. That very sensitivity means that my filters are porous. It doesn't take a lot to bring me joy, but it also doesn't take a lot to bring me sorrow.

I've had a hard time staying in balance vis à vis my emotions of late. It expresses itself in multiple ways including fatigue, isolating behavior, and difficulty writing. From the outside, it can look like depression and it probably has some of that in the mix, but it also doesn't feel particularly bad. What feels bad is the guilt and irritation I experience from not having gotten things done.

There's a weird energy this time of year. All these subtle and not so subtle messages of Do! Buy! Engage! That kind of external mania turns me inward, as does the shorter days and the cold.

I don't think cyclic shifts in our productivity and activity is bad or wrong. As with most things, it's complicated. It depends.

Right now, I'm almost 2 months behind where I wanted and needed to be in drafting book 5 of the Halcyone Space series. And I'm trying to figure out how to keep on track while honoring my self and my mental and physical health. So bear with me here as I talk it out and work to make sense of it.


Creativity doesn't just happen; it's transformative. Both as its process and in its outcome.

In order to create, we must collect elements from the world around us - sensory experiences, emotions, ideas, memories, objects - and change them, imbue them with layers of meaning to form something new. That is one meaning of transformation.

The other is how that new creation, be it a painting, a poem, a novel, a song, or any other expression, changes the creator and the audience.

So we transform to create and our creation has the potential to transform us.

That's a lot of responsibility, along with a process that can seem messy or magical or just impenetrable.

But it starts with that sensitivity. Those porous boundaries. And they don't discriminate in what they take in.


Like many folks, I've been following the news cycle. It's nearly impossible to avoid it. My social media feeds used to be full of dogs, recipes, travel, book news, and Doctor Who memes. Now it's overwhelmed by fear, calls to action, outrage. And yes, there's a lot to be feared, much work to do, and to be outraged over. 

I don't think I can isolate myself from everything. Nor would I want to even if I could. Even if I felt no personal responsibility to the world, my creativity cannot live outside of it. That porous filter between me and everything? It can't be set to only take in some things and not others. Not if I want to continue to transform and create. 

And yet, I'm tired. The amount of energy it takes to preserve my emotional safety is enormous. It feels like I've run short of resources for anything else. So my writing suffers. My organization suffers, my social connections suffer. 


None of this is to imply I don't also have great joy in my life. While this year has brought incredible challenges, both to the world and to my small part of it, it has also given me much to be thankful for, not the least of which is StarField Farm and the beginning of a new adventure with my husband. Then there is the discovery of my extended family, found after a near 40 year search. (Another blog post for another day.)


I live in a part of the world where the days are getting shorter. Where creeping darkness is more than just a metaphor. It feels like the calendar year is accelerating to the end with all of its artificial marking of accomplishments that somehow need to happen in a particular timeframe. 


I don't have answers. I am doing the best that I can.

I will end with a few lines from Mary Oliver's brilliant poem, WILD GEESE. I need this reminder.

Perhaps you do, too.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
                              --From "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

May you find the balance you seek in the days to come.



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1 comment:

  1. Thank you! We tend to forget that the fallow times are when we get ready for the productive ones. I needed that reminder.