Dear Fearful artist,
What are you actually afraid of?!
Losing control? Being rejected? Disappointing others or yourself?
Are these growing pains you're feeling? Are they childhood traumas awakening?
What is it that keeps you up at night, wondering how to do THE WORK?
Or are you wondering why is it that you can't NOT do the work?
The artist's life is sometimes a weight to carry. A burden. A toll. A charge deep inside you. A fire that won't let go. You feel it with every breath you take. You try to calm it down. You say "Enough inspiration for one day. Leave me be. Let me live a NORMAL life for a change. A quiet, simple, disappearing life. A life that doesn't need to live forever. A life that doesn't need to be purposeful, to have meaning, to share the dream that is in my frail and mortal human eye." What is a normal life like? I wonder. And that wondering takes me on the artist's spin yet again.
'You are what you are' say people wiser than I. Yes, I am what I am and my eyes and how I see the world is a never ending dream while I am awake. Life's biggest gift is poetry, music, dance. The languages that live beyond logic. That spiral in a different sphere. How to inhabit inhibitions is the conundrum of the social artist. How to live alone together, or together alone. How to make friends with the artist within. The artist that wants desperately to hide, and desperately to be seen.
Oh, artist's life. You break me piece by piece, and you fill my heart with humanity with every word, and every story , and every frame, and every feeling captured in the camera's eye.
I can say 'don't be afraid', but you will be afraid.
Dreaming out loud is a scary act. Is a sacred act. Is a terrible act and a wonderful act.
It's both selfish and both extremely generous. It demands courage from every fiber of your being, and yet if there is no fear - there is no humanity.
So be afraid, dear fearful artist.
Make fire with your fear. Let it keep you warm. You will need to be warm to embrace your audience.
Yet Another Fearful Artist.
You're my bad. My making. My mistake.
Without me messing up by expecting something from someone some place or some thing, we wouldn't have met now on a late chilly Tuesday night. This time, I summoned you by putting some hope into someone. And boy, I feel you right there sitting heavy on my heart. I feel your cringe worthy self shaking your head at me, as if to say 'I told you so...' And you did. You did tell me so. But I didn't listen. Hope grew strong in me and clouded my judgement. Hope brought along expectation with her, and now I was under their bonded spell. And now, as expected, here I am, tangled with your long and brutal tentacles. As if I was your prey all along, dear Disappointment.
I will not mince words tonight. Nor will I find the good in you, the lesson that you give me with your presence, the meaning that you have. I will not do so because I feel the weight of you tonight and you are heavy. Too heavy for optimism. Too heavy for hope.
The only hope I feel is in that quiet inner child's wish that you had not appeared at all, and that the friend who disappointed me tonight, wouldn't have done that at all.
But alas... neither I or you are time travelers, and wishing is only kept for birthdays and shooting stars. I will feel you and all your weight, and maybe come tomorrow, your weight will be a bit more tolerable to bare.
With you, reluctantly,
I wish you had a different name. A name that would be less.... uncomfortable. Saying your name 'Discomfort' brings this queezy-squeemish-mugh UNCOMFORTABLE feeling in me. One that pains on my heart. Like a rock that just SITS there. Taking space. Adding weight. Bothersome. Irritating. BUMMERsome.
Oh, Discomfort. You come and go, but these days. Or... TODAY - you've come and stayed. For a long while. You've reminded me places where I have yet to grow. Places where I'm stuck in. Places where I feel you so heavy on my chest, that my inner child goes running to cry her face in the bed's down comforter. And that comforter was comfortable, hence its name... but only for a little while. Once I rose from it... there you were again. Reminding me of the mountain I am climbing while being deeply afraid of heights.
Oh, Discomfort. You are an important one, aren't you? We credit Fear often, but you are like the subtle tell-sign that Fear follows. You are the guideline, the guide, the leader taking me to a path of new growth, changes, learnings, lessons... for wisdom to drop in, one must first embrace YOU dear Discomfort. And today, I DO embrace you. I cherish you. I hold you close to me knowing that you are a better armor than the stronger of metals. You're a shield even in your invisible shell. You're a positive even though I don't bother telling you that because most of the time you are just really really UNCOMFORTABLE.
So what do I say to you on a day that we've been on each other's throat?
I say thank you. And I say it again. And again. Until you feel some of that heavy-feeling of DISCOMFORT.
With many thanks...
Aw how much I love you. I adore you. I could eat you whole!
I think you and I have been an item since I was born. Legend has it... well, according to my family at least.. that you and I were an item from as early as my first days, hanging out in the hospital with all the other screaming babies. You and I were not screaming. Not one bit. Because we had each other. I mean, sure, we had my mom to lean on for food and love and care and all that... but you and I were like a match made in the womb, and we've been going strong ever since.
You were with me when I tip toed into kindergarten, and school, a new school, with boys, and then with work navigating the entertainment industry as a teenage girl (You were CRUCIAL then), and you tagged along with me when I moved to another country to pursue my dreams, for BOTH of us to finally have our freedom to live together almost as lovers. Some judged me for you. Called me 'intense.' 'Recluse.' 'Loner.' But I wasn't all that. I was just in a co-dependent relationship with you, dear Independence.
It became clear when I went into therapy a few years back to announce 'I am a workaholic!' only to discover that I was addicted all right, but it was really YOU that I have been addicted to. And now here I am, trying to redefine our relationship. Trying this 'interdependence' thing means that you and I may need a little break. Collaborating and leaning on other people means that you and I can no longer be exclusive. Admitting that I, too, need people - means that you can no longer be the only love in my life.
But I do love you, dear Independence.
You are my ally, my fierce right hand, the best coping mechanism I could ever count on... and yet - growth means I have to go where I am most uncomfortable. And that means seeing who I am separate from YOU for a change. At times, not always. But at time, separated from you, dear Independence.
Always yours, but no longer only yours...
You spring on me like a hurricane.
Like the scary ghost in a scare-jumps packed horror films.
Like a twenty year old man on his first night with a woman.
You spring on me and I am left defenseless against you. Trying to catch my breath but your presence clogs my lungs. I understand why you're here. I understand you believe you are joining me because it is some sort of a protection spell. I bet you think if you join me - I will surely excel. But in truth, your presence is only a cycle of YOUR existence. You don't contribute to any change in me. You only contribute to... well: STRESS in me.
And Stress, oh dear Stress... you HURT me.
You hurt me with your carelessness. Your flakiness. Your lack of decision making.
You just show up in order to rile me up and get my mind spinning. And it spins. Boy does it spin....
A rollercoaster type of a spin. A spin that leaves me bleeding on the floor, reaching for a life line.
Oh, Stress, do you HAVE to show up like that!?
With your panic. Your intensity. Your negativity?
Do you have to remind me of all the things I HAVEN'T done yet and how that must mean I am a complete and total utter mess!??
Oh, Stress, you feed into my workaholic nature. You play right into it. And my workaholic self loves that - she actually thinks there is value in you. Same as there is value in money. In success. In power. She is sure that having Stress in her means that she is busy and therefore WORTHY TO BE ALIVE. I repeat, in some workaholic circles, having yours truly Stress as a regular chaperone is so delusional that it is actually making people feel ALIVE.
Well, if DEAD means I don't get to have stress most of the time... SO BE IT.
For a minute there I thought you disappeared for good.
I felt you getting washed off of me... such relief! Such a weight to shed off! Such lightness!
But alas... you were only on spring break, it seems. You are now alive and kicking, reminding me that I will never achieve or be even a speck of what I could do in my fantasy of myself. In that fantasy - you aren't around. You don't matter. You don't mean a thing. In the fantasy of myself I am fearless, DOUBTless, driven to DO any and all that I want to do. In my fantasy I am doubtless, no doubt about that.
But alas... here we are. Back in reality and the reality version of myself is cautious, fearful, sensitive, DOUBTing herself and her capabilities in almost every moment.
I learn to live with you. To accept you. To make peace that you'll show up, making me uneasy to celebrate any wins, or go after a new horizon, or god forbid ask others for help in my journey... I make peace that you'd always be there, camping out in my head, whether I like it, or not... whether I welcome you, or would reject your presence in a heart beat.
And as long as I have a heart beat, I will likely have YOU, dear Doubt.
Once upon a time, you were a close friend of mine.
I didn't appreciate you when you were around. Even took you for granted. Assumed you'd always be there. And maybe that's why you decided to drift away with the years, with the happenings... drift away and tease me from afar.
I see you there, at a distance, I can almost reach you.... and then I find myself in limbo again, reminiscing on how things were easier when you were around. Things were clear. Things were known.
Now, without you, I am aching for the young and fearless gal I used to be with you by my side. The one that had do much of you - that she moved across the world in search of a new identity, a new world to call her own. With you by her side, you helped that little old me act towards each and every one of her goals. She didn't even need to name them with you around. They were known to you and therefore easy to her. You two were a winning team. You and I were a winning team. But alas... we are now far apart, and as time goes my hesitation grows and your teasing echoes louder and louder... but it is hard to hear you amidst the beat of my hesitant and fearful heart.
Oh, I long for your company again... to caress me, lead me gently and surely to wherever I aspire to go, to guide me towards tough decisions as if they were the simplest ones. Oh, how I long for thee again, dear Decisiveness.
Please come back and take me from my limbo misery...
You are an elusive creature, aren't you?
I think I know you, fully, totally, completely... but then I find myself walking the streets I walked on as a child, and you rush in showing me so many more sides of yourself. Sides you keep hidden most of the time. Hidden so well it's as if they don't exist.
You are surprising. Freighting. In control. I hear the longer a person know you, the higher the chances they have of losing you. That's where my fear kicks in. I, myself, don't ever want to lose you. Your nuance; your awareness of showing me only what is needed at the moment, is admirable and impressive. How do you make those calculations in that small lille head of yours??
How do you know when exactly to wash over me with your presence? You bring back time, dear Memory. In fact, you ARE time. You are everything in my understanding of time. You are identity, also. Without you, I lose track of that little girl within me. The one that walked those streets, and had that accident happen to her, or that love affair, and that little mishap with a friend. The one that loved going to that one coffee shop and order the toast with walnuts and honey. The one that loved a boy and walked by his workplace every night, to catch a glimpse of him. The one that took her vanilla tea to the beach, with a cigarette in hand and a notebook to write poetry on in the other. That girl was me, back in another time. And YOU are her keeper, dear Memory.
You are MY keeper, dear Memory.
And I am yours. Without you - who am I, really?
You are a feisty determined lil’ thing, aren’t you!? You pop up without any notice, almost at every time of the day. Always overshadowing everyone else. I wish I could say I hate you, but truth is: I like your company. You make me feel powerful. Better than. Strong. Capable. You make me feel my ego, and boy it sometimes feel good….. until it doesn’t. Until the face in front of me - the offended face, the judged face, the shamed face - sighs in sorrow and my heart breaks.
And all I can say is I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.
You, dear Judgment, take the best of me. You own me. Like your bitch. You rule me like I’m your disciple. You devour me. Like I am your cannibalistic feast.
You’re a force of nature, a villainous beast, and I am a mere human in the face of you.
I can mediate all day long, and be all ‘zen’d out’, and you will still surprise me suddenly, without notice- catching me without ay armor.
You must be an essential part of the human condition. The theme of morality, right & wrong, judgment, they are all invaluable themes in the human condition - there’s value to that in our world. There IS value. But see, so often you are misplaced, Judgment. You show up in the wrong time, along with Ego, and you separate me from whoever I could look at without judgment - if you hadn’t shown up.
I hate you Judgment, because it feels good to be in your vicinity. Until it feels bad.
I need you, because some of you is needed to function in a society like ours. Some of you is needed in order to make decisions. Some of you is needed in order to follow my morality.
But I hate you nonetheless. Because when I am with you - than I am NOT with the person in front of me. When I am with you - I am only yours and separate from my community.
Unfortunately, often yours,
Boy, you are EXHAUSTING.
Do you have to show up and take my body on a tension-filled rollercoaster!? My jaw, fist, teeth tighten when you are here. My heart beats fast, and loud, and my eyes seem to want to spring out of their sockets.
And my voice screeches like a cat in heat. Anger, you are raw. You are wild. You are untamed.
And when you are near, I am at your mercy. I am at your disposal. I am your... bitch.
Some choose to tuck you deep under. Choose to pretend you are not there at all. While others are completely enamored with you, and are never able to manage you. They shift into resentment - self directed anger, or even some pivot into violence, aggression and rage.
When you come to see me, dear Anger, you are usually accompanied by an intense sense of focus.
I stare at someone with my eyes out of their sockets, and screech with my most cat-in-heat voice.
I get focused, directed, determined and oh so angry.
Other times you meet me with an impressive sense of righteousness. A cause. A calling. A chance to fix a wrong. A purpose. This version of you is much more pleasant to experience. This version of you is you with a shit-load-of make-up. This is you all covered up.
And when you show up naked in your birthday suit, I know that the only way to tend to you, and to calm you, is by being IN you. Feel what you ache for me to feel. Say the words you long to say. And when I'm with you, fully, deeply, simply - you are then accompanied by a dear friend: sadness. pain. hurt.
They are always there with you, aren't they, Anger?
You are simply theirs. Their driver. Their guide. Their twin flame.
You are simply a vessel to pain. I peel you and see IT. You are pain's protector. You are MY pain's protector.
Thank you, my dear pain protector. Roam free and release yourself from your own chains...
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman