Monday, August 13, 2012

The melancholic artist

I recently went on vacation for two weeks in rural Maine where it was quite easy to not be distracted. No major urban centres for miles, just quiet and wilderness. I was pretty burned out and thought this was just what I needed. Sensory deprivation. I was very much looking forward to it.

And I did, for the most part, enjoy it. However, this reprieve also gave me an opportunity to realize that my incredibly hectic life was preventing me from fully living it. I was just skimming the surface.

While away, a certain melancholy came over me. I was sad. Sad about the radio silence following some meetings where I pitched a script of mine. They haven't said no, but they haven't said yes. It's like you're in limbo, trying to remain hopeful but finding it increasingly difficult the more time goes by.

As an artist, you learn to develop a thick skin, handle rejection and move on. But I hadn't really allowed myself to feel that sadness. I just tucked it away and kept running from day to day, steeped in busy work or mindless distraction. I wondered how many other emotions were buried within because I wouldn't give myself the time and space to feel them.

There were a few occasions during this vacation when I felt an urgent need to return home, thinking I might be missing something, surrounded by all this serenity and lack of demands on my time. I found the quiet disquieting.

When I returned home, however, I wanted to somehow preserve that spacious mental landscape I'd managed to cultivate, and not clutter it with constant activity and useless information, allowing myself to be bored, to be quiet, to sit with the fact that I'm not really inspired at the moment; I have no clear ideas for a new script. I'm ebbing instead of flowing.

I still feel melancholic but I'm not pushing it away. Sitting still doesn't mean I'm no longer an artist. It does mean dwelling in discomfort, trying to glean satisfaction from other aspects of my life, some of which I consider much less glamorous but no less important.

I guess it can't always be tremendous highs and fits of creative productivity. Sometimes, there's quiet and stillness and uncertainty.