Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Better Answer

I recently had a long conversation with a dear, dear friend.  It began as a CD exchange but gained momentum and covered every topic from craft ideas to bad semesters to conversion stories.  Eventually we got to talking about my journey through the unknowable landscape of anxiety disorders.

"How do you do it?" My friend asked, and so sincerely.  "How do you motivate yourself to get up in the mornings?"

"I don't," I said.  "Most days I want to turn off the alarm and roll over and pretend I don't have anything to do.  But ignoring my problems won't make them go away."

This answer didn't seem to satisfy my friend, who traced the texture of my bedroom wall before replying, "If I could have this, this kind of beauty, this art, anything to live for, I think it would be easier."  (Only my friend was much more eloquent-- I don't remember most of the impassioned speech that followed, just that it was more beautiful than I think my friend realized.)  I said something stupid, I'm sure, and our conversation fizzled out shortly thereafter.  I've been thinking about it ever since.

Why do I get out of bed in the morning?  Why do I swallow my dread, suppress the feeling of impending doom and soldier on day after day?  What is it that keeps me from hiding safely behind my bepostitnoted door?

It's the journey.

It seems so counterintuitive, because the unsteadiness should keep me cowering in the corner, the insecurity should cripple me, but it gets me up and moving each day.  I'm still figuring out who I am, and the prospect that today will bring me closer to patenting/inventing/grasping/unearthing my own brand of Truth is enough.  It's not just art, it's the happening upon, the discovery of art in the least likely places: the ski and board shop tucked away off of State Street, the unassumingly beautiful mother and child on the bus, the accidentally poetic words of a dotty old Astronomy professor.

It's music-- the melody that never leaves my head, the beat that thrums through me in perfect sync with my heartbeat, the band I never knew I loved, the song sweeping forth from every fiber of my being.

It's lunches at Joe's and the sound of my nephew's voice.  It's the books I haven't read, and more importantly, the stories I haven't dreamed up.  It's the predictably steady downpour of a warm shower.  It's the hope that some day I'll meet a man who can't sleep at night because he's caught up in thoughts of me and worried that someone else might snatch me up.

I get out of bed in the morning because I am not yet complete, and the gentle curve of my pillow and the four (six) walls that keep me sheltered do not afford me the opportunity to explore, to discover, to name, or to change anything.  They are stagnance; they are death.  I get out of bed in the morning to breathe life into this potential that threatens to engulf me, to turn it into experience and find out how it all fits together, or how I fit into it all.

My dear, dear friend, I get up every morning because I will only know fear if I only give in to my fears; I will never learn to love or to see or to create if I never venture beyond my front door.  So I venture, I make memories, and I do the best I can to make a life for myself, or to find myself through the life I choose to live.


Recorded 4/20/12, embellished 4/22/20

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