Who is on the plum tree?
Some days, every phone call or interaction with whomever, seems fraught with anguish over something. Everything I read is full of stress and struggle, even people walking their dogs seem anxious and impatient. We all know the impact of the world economy on those of us who struggle to make a living, find suitable shelter and cope with the stress of everyday living. But there is something more…
As a psychotherapist, I encounter the underlying truth about people’s issues, the things that, beneath the surface cause anguish. Often, serious things are displaced onto inconsequential distractions. We dump our emotional load onto the small stuff, act out stress on nearest and dearest, blame the tools of our trade for making us feel rotten. Maybe the Internet won’t work, or that form we have been meaning to fill out is still sitting in the drawer. Perhaps a decision must be made for which, we feel little commitment. Rather than, listen to valid reservations, which might disrupt long-made plans, we feel fractious and taut. Who knows? If we listened to the niggling, wee voice within, we might begin a new adventure, one that helps us live outside of the box and one which might re-ignite the fire in us. Whatever the trigger, something deeper is going on, which begins to affect behaviour and tinge our voices with discord rather than harmony.
Over the Christmas holiday, I met with friends old and new and friends of friends eager to try to make sense of it all as one year gave way to another. A core issue that emerged from such intimate conversations was this: When we can’t express our talent in the world due to financial expectation, need, commitment, how do we cope?
I often listen to descriptions of the agony of unfulfillment when doing-that-thing-that-makes-a-person-unique-in-the-world is thwarted. How easily the once-sensed destiny becomes a disappearing dream, a crock of gold at the end of a rainbow. Time to tuck the dream away in a darkened corner of the mind and grow up! Surely, adults don’t do what they love? Of course, the thing we love doing is the thing we are usually best at. It engages, inspires and sustains us. It is a form of play. We are willing to work long into the night, paying attention to detail, essential to the fulfillment of any creative endeavour. We are Prometheans, attempting to take Heaven by storm! For the sin of trying to bring the fire of inspiration back to our fellow humans, we are psychologically chained to a rock where birds (destructive thoughts) feed on our livers (symbolic of father issues: power, authority, will, creativity).
Suffering accompanies talent. We can’t give it up just because it’s bad for us or useless because it doesn’t pay the bills. We can’t treat it as though it were a compulsive/addictive disorder, even though, undoubtedly, it is. All we can do is learn to manage it wisely. When we are creating, we are not tortured. Afterwards, wondering how we will market our creation is when the birds come. It is hard not to entertain fear-making thoughts that come to rob us of our moment of wonder at the fulfillment of our own creation.
I could offer advice, but I’m not going to. I can only describe my subjective stance on being a writer, songmaker, poet, campaigner…none of which pays the bills, none of which has meaning or value in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps, though, it is what keeps the soul intact! And perhaps, as a member of the human race, my small voice contributes something of value. Without the collective voice of poets, thinkers, artists, soul-making dramatists, the world would be all the poorer; what vestiges of Humanity remain might degenerate into an everyone-for-himself struggle for physical survival only.
As I grow older, I am no longer submerged in the need to prove myself. The Eternal Child within enables me to enjoy the fruits of my imagination. I can write simply because I love it. It entertains me to enter the world of psyche and interact with my sub-personalities as they play out their inner drama. They express all manner of things through my literary characters or soul-making poetry. I may not be able to take Heaven by storm or change the world. I can, however, write about it…simply because I can.
Prometheus is on holiday!