The days start pretty well, working from home.
I’m somewhere between hitting my stride, mad obsession, and betting kicked in the head by another sinus infection. Last week I worked all day every day on business and networks – which are growing at a phenomenal rate as all kinds of things are clicking into place about marketing, communication, and finding a language for what it is I do. Changing gears or taking time off is somewhere between very difficult and completely impossible. I had my first migraine in years the other day and had to stop everything and go lie down in a dark room. For me these have only ever been drug allergies… was it a food allergy? Driving home through incredibly bright afternoon light in the hills (if you haven’t experienced Australian evening light when the sky is clear, try driving with a industrial spotlight in your face)… or trying to stop the cascade of information in my head? I don’t know. If it happens again I’ll know more, but one incident is not a pattern.
I am drafting policy documents for the networks and not for profit. I don’t mean to be, but I can’t stop it. Things that never made sense to me are making sense, and in this clarity everything I’ve ever thought, read, or experienced, comes rushing into view… a new perspective. I’m finally learning a new language and everything is translating itself into and out of it. Art and mental health are sparking each other in a continuous loop in my mind. The tip of my index finger has now become permanently numb from writing.
I need to get college homework done. I have 3 artworks and 2 essays due soon, and work do do on 3 journals. It’s almost impossible to make time for it. But I will. Last night I set myself the task – no business or networking work at all until after 5pm today. At all. Even returning a phone call or an email. I don’t have the control to just do one thing, so it needs to be a closed door. Panic and frustration screamed inside me. So then I did whatever I had to until the screaming quieted. I set up my work table. I cleared away all network and business paraphinalia. I checked my do list and updated my post it notes so I wouldn’t forget anything important – and didn’t have to waste mental energy remembering it. I got out my papers and sewing machine and library books and notes and journal and all the inspiration and trappings of one of the art projects I need to work on. I could feel the screaming settle inside and my mind change focus, start to pick up the threads of this project with keenness and interest, start to knaw at the problems and muse about the possibilities. I went to bed with the art project brewing and my mind mollified, like taking a toy that needs washing off a child and giving them a different, but still interesting toy to investigate instead.
Today I’m up. I’ve slept, I’m rested. My sinuses are horrible but I still have half a box of tissues so I don’t need to go anywhere. The lounge is set for art. I’ve filled two buckets with weeds and rose trimmings from the garden – starting by getting my hands in soil. I have water to drink and Radiohead playing. This is how I cross the threshold and shift my focus – I change the environment. I’ve always known this but not known what I was doing. The artists in my system have turned up, like wolves sniffing the air. Something for them. The papers and inks call to my hands. A language of their own.
Out in the yard, I’ve set the sprinklers as the garden was dry. It’s easy to miss that during the cold months, but here in South Australia just because it’s cold doesn’t mean rain has fallen. You need to walk in the garden to notice all the little signs of stress in the plants that ask for water. And I think to myself – that’s another language, of a kind. All these different languages the world speaks. All these different worlds, nested alongside each other. And here’s me, changing shape, colour, name, and mother tongue. Figuring out how to open the doors and cross the thresholds and move between the worlds.
In the grey light, the water drops hang silver on the plants. The garden is strewn with pearls.