taking myself seriously, part 2
I’m nearing a threshold of development as an artist. It’s not quite an undertow, but it feels like . . . if I can let go of trying to direct my flow, I could ~ almost ~ be carried effortlessly over the weir.
The tricky parts are that (1) I still have to actively seek out new experiences; (2) I’m yearning towards certain things, but I don’t know why, so I don’t know which parts of them are actually essential. In other words, can I make substitutions? And, (3) I dimly sense this larger meta- project entangles me in the fate of the world — something I welcome — but I cannot perceive how.
How can focusing on myself / selves aid anyone but me?
Mrs. Nocerino* would say, “You’re being ridiculously self-indulgent! How dare you put yourself first, you miserable ingrate! Who do you think you are?!? You don’t matter! You are utterly irrelevant! You are a miserable loser, so no wonder nobody likes you! Try helping other people, and maybe — maybe! — you can earn your keep. Don’t think I won’t toss you into the street anyway, missy! You’ll probably screw this up, just like everything else (you’ve tried to do to please me)!”
Once upon a time, I loved my mother. Now I’m not entirely sure what I feel for my mother — certainly compassion, but I don’t think love. Mrs. Nocerino, though [the real person, not my introject], I barely even met. I never had a personal relationship with her. Why would I want to develop a relationship with someone who terrorized my mother when she was a child?
And yet . . . clearly Mrs. Nocerino’s “voice” remains a force in my life. The real person, a contemporary of my mother’s mother (who died 15 years ago) has to be long dead.
Parts of me want to obstruct my progress towards the weir. Want me to squander all my emotional energy (like I do in dreams featuring my mother and my sister) “kicking and screaming” — they are perfect distractions every. single. time.
I think I’m distracting myself right now. This is not at all what I intended to write about.
Let me start over.
As usual, I don’t really have words for what I want say, but . . . My environment, which could be characterized as “landscape” or “habitat” or “watershed”, which makes it sound inanimate, while it’s really teeming with zillions of nonhuman lives, influences my life both collectively and individually. These people are arguably the most important characters in my life. They are rarely far from my thoughts.
At least 90% of the photos I take feature them, not humans (Spouse comprises the majority of that last 10%). I spend more time with them than I spend with Spouse. They spark ideas that would never arise with other human beings.
I love them, and I need them.
But I also . . . need to travel, and meet other “landscapes”, “habitats”, and “watersheds”, and their denizens.
When I remain consistently where I know what to expect, more or less, well, that’s a problem for a lot of reasons. Too much stability weirds me out — I grew up in chaos. I need toothy issues to grapple with. I need to explore new places so I can discover things I would’ve never thought of.
Being away from what’s familiar provides contrast. Which often sparks insight.
Testing my boundaries helps me find weak spots, as well as directions I want to grow into. I boldly venture into the unknown, and get burned. But I learn, so it’s worth it.
When I stay home too much, my learning stays small. My challenge muscles atrophy with disuse. I get depressed. I fall into despair. I feel worthless.
AROHO woke me up from hibernation. But with this particular threshold just beyond my line of sight, I’m not a bear emerging from its den into spring —I’m Rip Van Winkle — the whole world is new and utterly strange.
What do I do now?
*my mother’s introject, that I inherited from her