Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
It is during the walk home, appropriately, that I at last manage to articulate my complicated relationship with stillness.
Stillness and I stand at the edges of forests, at the entrances of museums, just off the elevator, just to the side of persuasion. I will say to stillness, let us go further, and see what lies beyond our vision. And stillness turns to me, rests a hummingbird-feather hand on my shoulder, and replies, I’m not done viewing what is in our vision now. We fight like streams and rocks, taking turns as either, until we have worn each other down, until at last I agree to stay for awhile, until at last stillness agrees to move on. We carry each other along on our separate adventures but neither of us is truly satisfied.
And yet there is love there for each other, an understanding that what we would lose of each other if we separated completely would be so much worse than the tension of remaining together. There is no animus in our relationship; there is but an understanding that stillness and I are both poorly matched and happily bound to one another.
The last recurring nightmare I can remember, which is to say it hasn’t recurred for some time, is simply this: I am standing in a vast field, or a city, or some other generic landscape, and I am either a few seconds too fast or a few seconds too slow for everything happening around me. I spend the duration of the nightmare attempting to will my body into sync with the environment, and what I feel is not so much terror as it is dread. Of what, I’m not sure; dread that I will never be able to center myself on the pace of this particular clock-tick, perhaps.
It never seems to occur to me to ask the world to hold still for a moment.
This is not, I diagnose, because of an oversight on my part. It’s because if the world stopped moving I wouldn’t want to be part of it anymore. I suffocate on air that has stood there waiting for me. I need it to attempt escape. I need it to come charging at me. I do not function well in vacuums or in theory.
I do not interview well, I never seem to interview well, because my muscles tense, my bones go brittle and weather-beaten in these situations. I can’t find any sense of balance in the natural sequence of Q-A-Q-A, of step one, hold, step two, hold. My rhythms tend to blend the brushstrokes of Q and A together, like tendrils at the ends of kanji, the letters reaching to each other with longing for connection. I sell myself poorly because I’m subconsciously shopping at the same time: surely you are also interesting and I wonder what your story is and bloody hell I’m supposed to be talking about me right now um um um I’m very responsible and have an excellent eye for detail um.
I am aware, through various unfortunate happenstances, of no fewer than three jobs I have possessed where I was not considered a strong candidate for the position, and only acquired it as an alternate when one of the people above me didn’t work out. Re-assessments after the fact were much more favorable, after I’d spent time in the position. This is apparently my optimal state–I prove that I am a good fit for the work only after I have been allowed to do the work. It is an internal methodology that does me absolutely no fucking favors whatsoever but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me, on a deeply intrinsic level.
I’m trying to accept it so I can figure out how to make it work for me. I’m trying to tell stillness that I need to go spend some time in the middle of a tornado by myself but I promise to write a letter a week. I’m trying, as one of my favorite folk singers, once wrote, to evolve:
It took me too long to realize
that I don’t take good pictures
cuz I have the kind of beauty
My element is motion. This might be why I don’t sleep very much.