As I’m walking away from the building, my friend from the neighbor building says from his 2nd floor window:
“Are you dead?”
It was like a “Twilight Zone” moment, I was already off by the inertia of my own procrastination and thinking that all my work and equipment could just blow up any moment… let me give you some context:
For me, the white page/canvas dilemma is not creative block, it’s just physics, inertia. It takes me quite some energy/effort to begin anything, but once an hour or so into it, I begin to get a steady download and as long as I stay put until the job gets done, I have no lack for ideas.
I do, however, have other challenges: like sometimes finding the soul of the piece; too many ideas and the message/theme becoming too crowded and muddy or overly long; also when I begin to feel the bullshit trying to creep into my work —the last thing I want to do is to produce more bullshit content, we already have enough of that— but with editing and someone else giving me feedback, I usually come to a somewhat satisfactory result.
The main problem is that if I don’t push through the inertia as soon as it shows up, it gets stronger and stronger by the day and then a plethora of other thoughts begin to creep in making the inertia morph into emotional upset.
This is when my otherwise fun entertainment of smoking pot every now and then (which by the way is legal in my state) turns into an obsessive binge to suppress the pressure of my lack of discipline, which is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.
So there I was at my studio, procrastinating on writing and painting. A week had passed beyond my self-appointed deadline and I was already quite anxious, all I could do was keep distracting myself from the now mixed soup of emotions that had been building up to that point.
I knew what this was —the same self-sabotage mechanism I’ve used throughout my life. In the past it always sprung when having to accomplish some task that wasn’t completely in alignment with what I really wanted to do with my life. But this time was different, after trying out many hats, I’d finally found something that completely satisfies me, something that I feel capable and excited about, and most important I had found that which made me want to be alive! …and so much so that I had made a commitment with myself to at least have a new painting done and ready to go every month and post on my blog every week for a whole year (to start).
Now I have a mission: to find and connect with those who resonate with my work. I know there is value in the discoveries of my journey, there’s value in their contemplation —be it explicit with writing or implicit with painting. My hope is that sharing my experiences may help someone out there standing on a limb at the edge of some dark pit the likes of which I have made it through. (read: How Creativity Saved My Life)
So it was then around 2:00am (I’m a night owl) that I see a very bright light flash through my fabric window blinds. I thought it was a car so I didn’t give it more thought until about a minute later there it was again, this time it kept on, so I had to peak through the blinds to see what was going on. It was someone across the street aiming a powerful flashlight straight onto my window. I looked only for a moment and thought it was some drunkard just having fun, so as the light stopped flashing, I returned to my very important job of procrastinating.
About 10 or so minutes later I hear a ruckus banging on my hallway door, I took off my headphones, walked to the other room and opened the door to see two firemen in full-on gear. One of them said:
“There is a massive gas leak, if it ignites it will level the building, everyone has already been evacuated, you’re the only one left, you need to leave immediately!”
I was like, “What?!!” grabbed my laptop, keys, phone and got out of there. As I was walking away from the building I heard my jokester friend from his 2nd floor window of the neighbor building. He said:
“Are you dead?”
It was like a “Twilight Zone” moment, he does sometimes throw me off-balance with his gags but this time I was already out of it with my procrastination and the thought that all my work and equipment could just blow up any moment. In a few seconds I went through being confused and disoriented to getting upset; it was really weird but then I remembered that he was just messing with me like he does with everyone, so I asked if I could hang out with him until they figure out what was going on.
From his place we could hear the hiss of the gas leak even with the windows closed, it was intense. If it had ignited, it would have blown up the entire building. The whole thing lasted all night and after a little while I fell asleep on his couch. It was around noon when I woke up and the leak had already been fixed, so I returned to my studio feeling grateful that all my stuff was fine and most important, I was alive! This made me feel resolute about tackling my procrastination and getting the job done.
As I sat down to write, I couldn’t stop thinking about the parallels: why would my friend use those exact words, “Are you dead?” and at that precise moment …maybe I was, in a way carrying that energy, the shadow of death, a remnant of my past still clinging to bring me down.
Inertia is always at work. I realized that I had been spending most of my life establishing a very strong synapse network of self-sabotage based on fear and now that I had found the real life, I have to deal with the deceleration of such powerful momentum. But now I’m aware, I know my enemy, it came to burn down my house and it was me who invited it in.
The Power of Inertia is neutral but if you remain unconscious of your own shadow, it will bring you down. On the other hand, awareness will help you generate a new momentum. For me, one worth slaying the dragon of my own misgivings. As I move forward I may fall as much as I stand but nevertheless I’m moving forward. I’ve got no time to keep suckling at the tit of my past, this experience made me feel like I’ve been given a warning:
“You’ve got a job to do, stop wasting time and get to it!”