The process of creating is my greatest source of stress relief and also a time of reflection. When I am creating, I exist in my imagination, alone, with only the task at hand for company. I lose all track of space and time. It is wonderful.
However, when I need to create and am unable, I feel like a caged animal. Trapped in a world to which I do not belong. Surrounded by strangers and weirdoes with no means of escape. During those bleak times I will usually turn to writing because I can always find a means to put words out into the world. It is of little consolation though.
The greatest challenge I currently face is having plenty of time to create but having the desire killed by physical pain.
This is more of a torture than the physical pain could ever be.
I find myself stressed and inspired and ready to create but then the inability to engage in the creation process is always brought to an abrupt halt by the inability to physically perform a task - be it hold a paint brush or camera, to just being able to focus without being distracted by the sensation that my toes are on fire and both of my legs have fallen asleep. Then there are the uncontrollable muscle spasms that occur when holding a pencil in the manner necessary to put stokes on paper.
All of these setbacks become too daunting to overcome (they unfortunately can never be overcome but only worsen since I suffer from a degenerative condition) Depression and self pity settle into where inspiration and drive once lived. One of the worst parts is the atrophy that occurs during long periods of non creativity.
Under normal circumstances, an artist grows ever more skilled and honed as the years pass. Growth and experimentation become the next steps of the seasoned artist. In my case, I feel as though I am starting from the beginning each time I approach a canvas or sketch book.
And for the most part, I am.
Learning how I will hold the pencil for that day becomes more of a task than actually putting the vision of my mind's eye on paper. This daily focus on the technicalities is taking its toll on my creativity and what used to be exceptional skill. I'll have a brilliant idea and cannot bring it to fruition because of physical limitations. This is not to say I haven't tried to compensate. These limitations are the reason I began to paint in the first place. I was unable to hold a pencil or knife in order to do the precision work I used to do and took to a more loose style of painting with a medium I used to despise, acrylics. In two years, during a time of intense physical therapy, I was able to turn out about 80 paintings in a style that was basic but still filled a necessary need in my life.
Creation is like breathing to me.
When I cannot create I feel as though I am suffocating.
So what is one to do when the pain is doing its damnedest to smother the passion? The regression in my works and ability just leads to apathy which then, of course, leads to more atrophy.
Where does it end?
It has become a viscous cycle and one that seems to have no end. Even as I sit here writing this, I cannot find a comfortable sitting position. The folks in this coffee shop must think I have a nervous tic as I jerk forward each time I feel the stab of pain in the center of my spine. A pain that seems to be hitting every 5 seconds and has become distracting enough to make it into this blog post.
I think about Frida Khalo and how she used to work her pain into her art but I do not want to give my pain any place of honor, as it deserves none.
Most people are unaware that I have this condition because I don't want anyone to think of me as handicapped in any way. I only let people know who need to know in case of an incident so they can provide informed information to emergency personnel if needed.
I refuse to let my pain overtake my passion but it becomes more and more difficult with each day that passes, each project that goes unfinished and each inspiration that goes unrealized.
If anyone has any ideas, I am open to them.
I will not let this pain win.
As of right now, the only future I see is as a performance artist who screams, cries and convulses at irregular intervals in odd locations around town. Locations like the grocery store, this coffee shop or any other place I happen to be when some ridiculous pain chooses to strike.
Of course that would be giving in to the pain.
Perhaps I should acknowledge & embrace the pain and when it strikes, just go with it and put out a tip cup.