A month and a half ago, I was going through my quarterly Vincent Van Gogh period. No, I do not mean that I was inspired to paint pictures to rival Starry Night, The Potato Eaters or Sunflowers. Instead I was going through an artistic depression that, had it progressed further, might have had me contemplating cutting off an ear and mailing it to a relative or some random person.
Of course, I would never do that. I am not even close to being as Vincent Van Gogh as Van Gogh was himself - in manic depression or creative ability. Yet, you must give the beautiful genius this provision for his insane choice: his talent was never properly appreciated or rewarded in his lifetime. No wonder the lady who used to sell him his art supplies, while giving an interview on her hundredth or something birthday, said he was a morose jerk. Ask any creative person, and they're likely to tell you that when they get depressed about the reception of their work and the result of their efforts, they can go to some pretty dark places. And then, on top of it all and because of it all, their generative powers just about die (writer's block, apathetic painter's brush, composer's recalcitrant keys, etc).
We love you, Vincent. You were a genius, if unstable...and aren't we all?
As for this creative person, things turned around on Holy Thursday night. I was a Lector at Mass that evening, and I read the Old Testament reading of the first Passover. While crying and complaining to my husband on the phone at lunch that I was pathetic, he encouraged me to shift my focus from myself and my frustration to something more worthy of my attention. He told me to go over my reading for Mass. I didn't feel like doing it, but I did. And I stayed off my computer. When the time came to depart for church, I got on my knees and asked God to forgive me for snapping at my children every moment and for being completely selfish the whole day because of my self-centered disappointments. During my reading, a miracle: I did not make one mistake - no stuttering, no mispronunciations, no loss of the rhythm in the reading, and I was astounded that such a thing could be on a day when my attitude had been venomous.
My husband whispered, "Good job!" when I returned to the pew, and I replied with conviction, "By the grace of God."
My cry since, whenever I begin to crave the sour berries of self-pity, has been, "Father, save me from discouragement!" Sometimes you have to reject the all too alluring, soul-numbing and dead-ending gospel of "ME".
Anyway, some great things - great to little me - happened in the past couple months. The domesticated bohemian shared one of my posts to Google +. (Thank you, Philip!) My friend Holly wrote a great guest post about her grandfather. I wrote three other fairly popular posts of which I am quite proud. The writer Jennie of A Lady in France gave me some calming words of wisdom. My dad also wrote a guest post, and though it was very short, it of course brought in a slew of traffic, because his pieces always do. And I was gifted with words of encouragement from a cousin, a childhood friend, and my brother who told me that he reads each new post. Of course, I immediately got nervous and upended by writer's block upon hearing this from my big brother. Go figure.
Points of light in the darkness. All I can do, like any of us, is to keep striving. Sure, I've had days when I avoided the computer, and yesterday I missed the once-a-week posting goal I set for myself. As each and every weekend approaches, I resolve that this Saturday I'll sit down and pitch another post to a humor site; yet, for the past three months, being very busy, I haven't. And, okay, SEO does not exist for my blog, and technology to me is like an uneasy alliance with an alien network: great plans, poor communication. But I don't despair. No, indeed. I keep working, keep hoping, keep creating and seeking those points of light in the darkness.
They are always there, those starry, starry nights. They are there for all of us.
Mr London Street published again, and, as usual, it is a beautiful and funny post. He is always brilliant in reflections about his relationship with his wife. His posts, like fine wine, have an excellent finish. I am ashamed that I chronically feel twinges of jealousy when I read his words, but I am sure that I could never so well keep an audience's attention when writing about my mouth guard or my need to fill a prescription. Ah, well, we can't have it all, and I comfort myself that at least he can't write about what it's like to be a mama, or mum, or an accident-prone girl from Tennessee currently living in Arizona - ha!
P.S. Nathan, you're not old, and your words are vibrant. In the words of an American, keep truckin'.