For fourteen years now, I’ve gone to battle with my mind. I am Creative–part-civilian, part-writer–but all soldier, fighting for my freedom, my dreams, my self-fulfillment, and most importantly my Work. But for all these battles, I’ve only just realized I was even fighting at all. Through all the wounds made into scars, through all the shocks made into conditions and projections, I’ve always blamed the world and its inhabitants for my faults, losses, and mistakes. Thank god I’ve seen the error of my ways.
My desk is my foxhole, and every single day, I try to run to it. On the best days, I make it there unscathed. I sit and breathe, readying myself. I sip my coffee, stretch, pace, and breathe again. I shut off and put away all of my electronic connections. Then I read. Reading comes so naturally to us, doesn’t it, having been babies who were once read to? Then when we learned to read, it was like a hunger to decipher every book we got our small hands on. So I read in my foxhole, but I also dream; I dream these images of what I wish my work to be. Reading and dreaming feeds my spirit; and to thank the gods for the gift of inspiration they’ve given me, I wish to read it back to them. In a hum of energy, through sparks of creation and arrangement, I create as no other individual has ever created in the history of humanity because there has never been anyone like me in all of humanity. My work at these times is more than ample, it’s robust and strong, it’s a living, breathing entity. It twitches, grows, and thrums with the electricity of beauty and sublimity. Even through its many faults and mistakes, I see its potential and add to it. Days like this make me put on my uniform and run back into battle with the zest of power and confidence at the helm of my mind.
Other days are worse. The perfectionist’s side of my mind flinches at even mentioning them. On these days, I don’t even make it to my desk, and it’s nothing more than a fog of indifference that ruins me. These are days that follow me to the next day, and can lead to other days where I will abandon my post. On other days, I do make it there, but I am hurt, worried, scared, depressed, and angry. I breathe and feel the rough pinch of a war wound, ancient or brand-new. I only stare at my words, my attention still out in the trenches, dodging bullets and running for my life. Sometimes it takes me too long to warm up and I become distracted; then when I finally feel something happening–the medicine of that true and passionate work coming from my fingertips–the buzzer goes off, and I have to prepare myself for battle again. These bad days end up with my spirit not exalted but wounded or just reminded of its being wounded. I put on my armor, plunk on my helmet, grab my gun, and run out into battle confused, scared, and too much indifferent to the guns and the bombs and this soldier’s life.
The bad days aren’t as numerous anymore as they once were because I’ve realized that getting to that foxhole is almost as important as doing any good work. The work will come and go, bad or good, in its own way, but you must make it to that foxhole, even if only to stare at the words for five minutes. I’m on the next draft of my first book; and even though it’s been hell to complete it, it will be completed because I will not let this war get the best of me, the war of my mind. Our thoughts, feelings, and emotions are not who we are–and it certainly isn’t anything that’s out there in the world, in reality or on our computers, phones, or tablets–unless we ourselves make it so. You have to understand this, because once you do, you can declare war on yourself.
Wage war on your mind (and forget going to war with this world; it’s only a projection of what’s going on in our minds, and any effort to try and change or distort this world into what we wish or hope is a waste of time, energy, and resources). Wage war on your own petty and malicious thoughts, feelings, emotions, and words. Make great art, as Neil Gaiman once said. Get up every day ready for battle. Make it to your foxhole.
Knowledge that you’re even in a battle to fight for your life is essential to surviving. Steven Pressfield’s War of Art is a great place to start. Check out my review of his book here.
One last thing. With the passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, along with the deaths of countless others from either suicide or the devices of suicide through drug abuse, I’m reminded of how fragile this creative life is. Please reach out to your loved ones and let them know that you are there for them, whether they’re Creatives or not. And to the Creatives in your life, whether they are working on paintings, albums, videos, books, performances, or even WordPress blog posts all alone, let them know that no matter how solitary their lives are sometimes, they have your total support. Send a text but even better, call them or write them an email or make a date for coffee or drinks. Make it human and face-to-face.
And as I’ve written above, the best days can propel us to such a high, but the worst days can lead us down to our darkest lows, and because of the power of negative thoughts, it can be magnified to such a degree that we think the only solution is to take our own lives.
You are not alone. You are not fucked up, you are not stupid or crazy or wrong or lost or worthless. You are human.
If you feel lost, or know of someone who you’re worried might be, go here to start.
Create and Complete
Have a fulfilling day knowing that you are alive to experience it.