A wail of despair

When I sat down to write my morning pages today — closer to lunchtime than to morning, as has been the case all week — I was going to write about my gratitude for last night’s inspiring Oakland Word book release and reading party, and how I felt so loved and supported by the mini-VONA reunion I found there, and my commitment to attending more of these artist community events. But what came out was pages of complaint and despair: how can a whole week go by and I get so little done? How am I supposed to complete all the things I want to accomplish? How can I let go of what can’t be managed?

Self-portrait

Portrait of the artist as a tired woman

The very first thing I wrote in my pages was “why have I been starting my work days so late this week?” I’ve been waking late, yes, but getting up close to 9 is no excuse for beginning my morning pages at 11. Why am I pushing things off? I realize, after reading what I wrote this morning, that it’s because of that tension I’m feeling between my art and the rest of my life, or between all the areas of my art and my life. I resist doing the things that take me away from the other things I love; I resent them. Do I have to choose between being a person and being an artist? Is it possible to dance and walk and do yoga every day, to sing and to read for fun, to cook and bake, to fully enjoy my partner and our cats, to share time with my family and friends, to make a home and tend a garden — and to write books, to draw them, to read literature, to make things with my hands? I cry out “yes, yes, yes,” because I cannot picture my ideal life missing any of these things, and yet… this week I wrote 4000 words and saw friends and read a little, and did yoga once, and cooked once, and is that it? Is that it? When am I to find time for everything I feel so desperately that I need to do (not should, need)? I know the answer is I can’t; I know that neither art nor life can be made from little pieces of effort pulled here and there without the full commitment. But what to give up?

Every single thing left undone devastates me. I don’t know how to be the one to say: this is more important than that. And yet I know that to not decide is a disservice to everything. And the crisis is fast approaching; it’s already here.

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