I’m stuck in a hole. I’ve been here since the beginning of summer. It’s a comfortable hole, a scenic hole, but a hole is a hole is hole is a place you need to climb out of. A place to bury things. A place where the sun don’t shine.
I landed here gradually, busy as I was with other people’s concerns, busy with attending, cleaning, reacting, watching, consuming, travelling, packing, unpacking. But for a small nagging voice that told me I was wasting time, that worst of American sins, I hardly even noticed. To call it The Mean Reds* or a crisis of confidence would be overly dramatic. It’s been more like low-level unease and a waning of confidence.
Isn’t that where so many people are, post-pandemic? Slightly anxious and apathetic, drifting away from obligations and activities once so important? I could take comfort in that except I can’t blame the pandemic. The pandemic didn’t cut my job, dating, health or interpersonal prospects—life carried on pretty much as before.
The list of what I didn’t do makes me wish I had excuses. I wasn’t writing. I was hardly reading. Not cooking as much as I used to. Not keeping up with old friends, not volunteering. Each week I’d plan to get back to my old ways. As soon as I’m finished with this thing. Or that thing. Other people’s things. Things that were not that important. But if you don’t have your own thing, there’s always another thing. Daily life abhors a vacuum, to paraphrase. And if I were restless, vacuum I did. Vacuuming keeps you from feeling completely useless.
The further I got from writing the closer I got to a soul-killing question: What’s the point? What’s the point? is a bottom-line question. It’s a question for linear-thinkers. Effort plus time should lead to something, not just a circling back to more effort and more time. If there is no point, why put in effort? What’s the point of writing this blog when so few read it? What’s the point of writing another novel that’ll never get published? What’s the point of finishing an essay I’ll never send out?
In a linear mindset, What’s the point is just a few points away from despair. So you see where this is heading.
Thank goodness creativity guru Julia Cameron is here to stop the train. “No matter what your age or your life path,” she writes in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, “whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”
I read that and remind myself that I’m a better person when I’m writing. I’m happier, more cheerful, less apt to get out of my own lane and into my adult children’s.
It’s not that there’s no point. It’s that there’s no simple answer to what the point is. And I’m not going to find the answer sitting in a hole doing nothing.
So maybe you’re in a hole too. Maybe you’ve been stuck as I’ve been stuck, maybe you’ve wondered what’s the point of climbing out, it’s comfortable, you’re not bothering anybody and it wasn’t so great above ground anyway. Okay. But you weren’t meant for this. Let’s get out together. I can’t tell you how. I can’t tell you what you’re headed towards or how many tries it will take. But when you’re ready—I’m with you, sister, brother. Let’s go.
*Mean Reds: “Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of” —Holly Golightly