Tuesday, January 19, 2010
One of the things I am trying to do with my life, assuming my life is a canvas for art, is to be authentic. What that means from day to day varies, but it mostly has to do with ridding myself of the desire to compare myself with other people and just be myself.
I don't know if that sounds easy or not, but who I am is a constant work-in-progress. I set lofty goals for myself. I work hard. I am my own worst critic. In spite of that, I need to be more real.
When I get into trouble is when I try to be what my perception of a societal role should be. When I try to be what I think a "good wife" or "good mother" or even "good artist", I fall into a trap of trying to be what is expected, rather than taking the time to think about what that means to me. Does it matter if I put honest effort into something that ultimately is not natural to who I am? Doing that just leads to feeling like a failure.
Example: When I was Little A's mom, I did a lot of things with her. I wanted to be a good mom, because I loved her and also because some measure of my self image was wrapped up in that. I kept beating myself up because some of the things about parenting I wasn't so jazzed about, and I felt like if I was a "good mom" I would naturally enjoy them more. For instance, I dreaded bath time. Not mine, hers. I felt like if I was a good mom I would enjoy bathing my child. I would laugh through getting splashed with soapy water, I would be good-natured about getting that slippery kiddo to wash her hair. Tony was way better at it. Frankly I didn't enjoy it.
I also, for some odd reason. didn't enjoy playing on the floor as much as Tony did. Little A always wanted me to play with toys with her on the floor, and I did it, but I also had to make dinner and do laundry, so those moments often felt conflicted for me.
What I did enjoy were the afternoon tea times we had together, when we would have snacks and listen to music (often Mozart), and we would do drawings and color together. We had lovely closeness in those moments. Is that somehow less valuable than playing with a commercially ubiquitous plastic doll with her? I don't think so.
But when we had to reunify Little A with her biological mother, the first thing I noticed was that she played with Little A on the floor a lot. And even though I had my shit together in a lot of ways, I felt some harsh self-judgment feelings. I was glad for Little A that she would get that play time like she wanted, but after she was gone, I missed those more contemplative moments making fridge art the most. I missed most what came most naturally to me.
Little kids and friends and artistic audiences can smell it when you are not giving full commitment to the moment. I got up and read some of my poetry at an open mic recently (my first attempt at such a thing). I was nervous and unable to fully commit and I think as a result I got a tepid response. I had also chosen to read some stuff that I thought would have a broader appeal and be less about my inner persona. In retrospect, I think that was a wrong choice, based on what I thought a "good poet" would read. I made my selections based on what I thought were good representations of my work, instead of pieces that revealed something visceral and real about myself. If (or when) I decide to do it again, I need to not be afraid to show what is real about me. I need to bleed a bit, be a bit more raw. It is scary to do, because what if is isn't accepted? What if it makes people laugh?
But for me to be able to be satisfied with it after the fact, I need to experience being real with other people watching, even if that means I am not understood by everyone. Playing it safe will do me no good. Doing what others expect or worse, what I think others expect, will only prove that I can be superficial and concerned with the opinions of others. I don't even think that kind of art would ultimately resonate with anyone. It might be pretty, but ultimately forgettable.
I don't want to be forgettable. I don't want to blend in. I don't want to be "whatever is in these quotation marks", but the real thing. Even though it takes more energy and involves more risks, I want to be, as much as possible, more real.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Dreamed this morning after I went back to bed with a gnarly red wine hangover. All kinds of mixed up things, including living in a house with lots of family, and someone had brought home a young dragon, who had set up a nest in the living room. The room always hung with smoke from its breathing, and I wasn't sure I could live in a house like that much longer.
Little A was in my dream again, just being there in her proper place, misbehaving and just being a kid. It is always so sad to wake up and have that not be true. I miss her.
I also dreamed that I went to a large specialty fish market, and a friend of mine who worked there had set aside a package for me with 4 different sizes of shrimp, from tiny bay shrimp to large Vietnamese Tiger prawns as big as a man's hand. I remember thinking it was thoughtful of him to pick them for me. I had to stand in a long line to pay for them.
When I woke up my headache and nausea were much better, but I had lost much of my day to paying for last night's frivolity. Oh well, that is pretty rare for me. Have to have some fun sometime.