Please Kill Me,
At this point in my life, I’m old enough to know that life isn’t always ideal. Sure, we have moments of joy, elation, flat-out mania, and deep depression—but between those brief and fleeting high-highs and low-lows comes the ever-present and resilient ennui. Put simply, these are the grey moments between the instances that tend to define our outlook and future choices. For the most part, we’re forced to grit our teeth and muscle through them.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some exceptions (additionally, small or large moments aren’t congruent with the ‘high’ or ‘low’ feeling). Ex: there are few orgasms as good as that first sip of coffee in the morning. There are few worse feelings than running out of TP, just before feeling that guttural second wave of brown pudding (sorry for the visual).
For most of us, life is compromise, and compromise is quite often a ‘lose-lose’ as opposed to a ‘win-win’ (why am I repeating words like a f*cking Pokémon #PikaPika).
Anyway… Because life isn’t always ideal, it becomes important to create these ideal moments for ourselves. “Create our own happiness,” if you will. For a long time, I found myself stuck in the sticky echo chamber of external gratification.
Get an ‘A’ on a test, meant nothing if the teacher didn’t leave a “Good for you,” note and a gold star. Got a new relationship, meant nothing if the leased-spouse didn’t deem it perfection. Do a good job at work, means nothing if the boss doesn’t offer a high-five and a morning shout out. And on. And on. And on. Like a goddamn emotional dung beetle collecting other people’s crap as I rolled aimlessly uphill. The cure for this, of course, was writing. That was the ideal moment that I created.
When first embarking on any creative journey, it’s almost obligatory to give oneself a little more leeway than usually applicable in other circumstances. There are no courses, no lessons, no teaching’s, no deep-dives into YouTube or Wikipedia that can really replace the act or practice.
Due to this, being novice in any creative field, offers a somewhat limitless liberation. Freedom to be wrong. Freedom to explore. Freedom to experiment while drunkenly slaving over Draft #1 (which may or may not ever see the light of day). I miss that.
Now, that I’m a few years in, there is a leech attached to that freedom. With history, comes comparison. With comparison comes the spectrum of achievement. With the spectrum, comes the grade, scale, or whatever you use to quantify the success or failure of a particular piece. (I’m American, so don’t @ me with the metric system #Merica’). This situation, as you’ve probably guessed, is a major f*cking problem.
Why, you ask? (You didn’t.)
Because my sole reprieve from the chaotic highs, lows, and soggy in-betweens, had become my creative output. Whether I was writing for myself, a contest, an editor, publisher, Bobby Brown (does he read?), or whomever—the project always began with me. It was my safe space from a world of judgement and only a disappointment if I didn’t do it.
Along the way, and unbeknownst to me, I crossed over into this mental space where it was feeling like work (Yuck). No longer did it energize me to sit at the keyboard. Instead, it just brought about useless thoughts of pain, agony, boredom, and obligatory submission (You know… like all jobs not listed on our vision board).
This isn’t to say that the idea is unnecessary. I’d be a liar to report that I’m unappreciative of the opportunities, attention, and progress that come with being graded against the grander scheme of things.
Rather, the problem was that I had difficulty separating the two. Work and play mixed in my mind like oil and milk—tainting both. I don’t know about you, but I have the kind of mind that prefers to focus singularly on the task at hand. When uncontrollable thoughts of fear, error, mishaps, missteps, or negative feedback manifest themselves in the process of creating, it can be more than distracting. It can be downright apocalyptic to the potential writing session at hand.
For a while there, I (regretfully) began answering these moments with a Netflix binge and the nearest mind-numbing drink that I could find. As you could probably guess, that didn’t work out too well (See: Massive gaps in my blog posting history).
And again, as you’ve likely presumed—that gap in writing was yet another obstacle that distracted me from even doing this blog…LITERALLY THE THING I DO TO MANAGE MENTAL OVERFLOW. I was trapped in the questions: “Will it be as good as the last one?” “Will they like it?” “Will this be the post that loses me a bunch of followers?” and vice versa to all.
What I, and perhaps some of you now, had to remember was why I started this whole thing in the first place. I began with a goal, a dream, an inimitable psychosis (most likely) that I could somehow leave a mark on the globe with nothing more than my mind, evolving skill, and restless enjoyment of the process. I lost that somewhere along the way. I had to fight to get it back.
Yes, that first returning session was like sitting on the sharp end of a hot-poker while trying to sip from a fresh pot of coffee, in a snowstorm.
But, I did it.
Because life isn’t always ideal. High’s aren’t always high. Low’s aren’t always low. And everyone needs some goddamn existential consistency.
Due to it being needed, both for my sanity and the semi-functional life that I’ve slapped together (with duct tape, hope, and elbow grease), why not make it ideal? Why not chase the ideal moments? Why not create them?
At least, in this way, no moment is ever anything but a step closer to a good one. Every minute leads me closer to the minutes that will bring me peace, solace, and joy.
And that, boys and girls and other, is what I think life’s about: Gritting our teeth through the plot-points of life and filling in the detail with what satisfies us completely. Sometimes, we can even change our own story.
Because life isn’t ideal, we have to be. We have to create our own ideal moments.
Until Next Time,
– Antwan Crump
Having a tough day? Looking for something weird to read? Curious what happens with that sock on the first page? I think it’s time you tried Bedlam: A Collection of Things. No assembly required. (Now only $4.99!)