Sunday, March 6, 2011

Writer's Creep

I am not blocked; I am merely slowed.

I am editing as I go here. Well, here too. And here.

Should have edited that last paragraph...

I am slowed by a concern that I won't write something significant. Enough. That it won't measure up to something worth reading.

Slows me down, but I am not stopped. I can keep going. And I will.

In theory, at least.

"I'd rather be sleeping" is the bumper sticker for my car. Rather than do just about anything. Certainly rather than writing. But writing serves me better. And it serves others.

That is, as long as I get some sleep. Sleep is important medicine, especially for me. I've just been taking too much medicine lately.

At least 12 hours a day. Not by prescription, but by default. Can't hurt anything if you're sleeping. Can't really feel all those painful, yearning to feel good thoughts. Dreams are a crapshoot, but they're better than depressed reality. At least there's a chance you'll feel good. And feel really good.

I've had a few dreams lately where everything feels in place. Like the puzzle of my life has all its pieces and are fit comfortably together. All feelings are good and genuine, not fabricated by medications. And the world, the universe, et al is at peace, in congruence, in accordance. The dream does not make sense to the awakened person, but it is in full sense for the awakened mind. It feels right, logical, perfect. It is.

To try and capture it in words is to chase one's tail. The words splatter and sputter, missing the mark. It's impossible to catch the flowing river. Even the water slides through your grip.

Life is dynamic, organic. Growing, moving. It's not static like a photograph. Words trip and fall when they try to run along side of reality. They cannot run with the river.

But we try anyway. We long for that rush of endorphins that comes with riding the wind, that we feel as we approach the evasive, morphing truth. So we parse the images and flavors that we remember, and try to recreate the perfection that we tasted in the moment.

I remember something about a wise individual stating that life is about chasing three main shadows. And then he demonstrated, pointing out subtle shifts in lighting conditions, how we follow these changes, both intuitively and mechanically. There is meaning which entices us along our path. We choose the path, but it chooses us as well.

So why must we chase these shadows? Why are we even interested in them?

The mystery is what interests us. We ask questions. We want to know the truth. Our questioning stokes the fire that burns, the fuel in the locomotive engine. The all powerful Why? The almighty How? We want to know. And how.

So we scratch. We stretch. We ponder. We wander. We wonder. We try to ascertain. We come up short.

But that doesn't stop us. Not for long.

Sometimes, it feels like you're stuck. But then you breathe in, you breathe out, and you realize you're still moving. The electrons are still swirling at amazingly hard to fathom speeds. There is change on so many levels it's astounding.

So even when you choose to check out, stop off, wind down, nap out... you still are churning. You're still working.

You don't have to prove it to anyone. As long as there is life, there is movement. And if there is movement, there is an avenue for change. If you're alive, you can't be blocked. A block is but an imagined prison.

You can imagine yourself a key to unlock the cell door. There's always a way out.

Let yourself go.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In need of map(s)

So I misplaced October. Yeah. Well, if that wasn't enough...

Been away from the proverbial pen for awhile. Did a writing exercise earlier today and got the blood flowing. Creaky bones, stiff joints... Still plenty of punctuation going on.

Went to a writer's conference in December of last year. Seems like years ago now. It was in Big Sur, that transforming, magical place. It feels like I've written about it. Hell, I may have. (Do tell what you know.) At any rate, when I got back, I had been transformed. Too much me, unfortunately, for the world to take. So I landed back in the hospital.

That's twice in a few months. And while I was in there, I went and had a seizure. In all likelihood, it was due to the change in medications that I was taking. But regardless, I now find myself unable to drive for the immediate and foreseeable future. Thanks.

So I've been woe-is-me-ing for the better part of three months now. Doesn't help that you get your ass knocked down in the dumps as part of treatment for this disorder. Go manic and you're gonna pay for it with depression once you're done "playing" in the uptick. But that's just how it goes sometimes.

I really thought I was onto something, coming back from Big Sur this time. I'd met some amazing people, made some connections in the writing world, learned a whole lot... I had directions to turn to, to strive at, to drive towards. I was going places, and it all felt right and good.

Alas, it was too much for my mind to take, being on top of the world like that. Even if it was just my little world I was on top of. Feeling good breeds mania, and mania punches my ticket for the hospital.

At least, that's how it seems from this perspective. I'm left wondering if I can ever really feel "good" again, without it leading down the path to un-wellness. Can I be happy ever again without the sneaking sensation that I'm about to be riding my shorts up a flagpole?

The doctors don't want to talk about it. The way that we treat bipolar disorder is to try and organize and structure our lives around a schedule and regulate what we can to that end. We use the Social Rhythm Metric, tracking bedtimes and mealtimes and interactions with people. We don't talk about how emotional highs are to be shunned. Because nobody wants to admit that it might be true. Nobody wants to sanction our glee.

But it might very well be true. Here I am, fully indoctrinated with treatment, having gone to bipolar group therapy for years, having been on a slew of meds and talked with countless doctors and therapists about the finer points of the disorder, and I still got all swooped up in the feel good and landed my ass back in the hospital. Not once, but twice. In a matter of months. So danger on me if I should start to feel better.

Should I start to feel more like myself and at peace with the world and my mind and have my faculties at attention and the like, look out. Not because I'm about to conquer the world and succeed, but because I'm about to find my way back to the ER.

Seems to me that I should invest in a harmonica and frequent the street corner, cuz the blues is my only friend.

Of course I realize that I may be overstating things a bit. But what would you have me think? Last couple of times I remember feeling "right" with myself, like I was in my right mind, was just before I landed back in the looney bin.

Add to all this that I'm still unemployed and you've got yourself one pitiful customer. Can't drive, can't work, can't be happy. Pleasure to be around.

Please, keep reading.

I'm not exactly attracting the type of people I want to be around. I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful wife and supportive family, or I'd likely be living under a bridge somewhere.

Anyway. I'm bipolar, and I've got capacities to realize a lot of "out there" stuff. So I spend some time "out there" and beyond. It's just what I do. Not all the time, of course. But periodically. It's a gift, really. The ability to see beyond the horizon, to imagine into the fold of the paper and out the other sides. It's unbridled creativity. The engine of life itself.

And yes, it's a struggle. And nobody savors struggle. But if you can, it saves you some energy on the other side of it. Like Churchill said-- "When you're going through Hell, keep going."

Much like this exercise. I want to get to the bottom of this, so I must keep going. Keep trying. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

So that's what I do. Believe it or not, I'm trying. I'm trying to feel good, but not too good. I'm trying to work, get better, learn. I'm trying to do the right thing. I'm trying to regulate my moods, my sleeping, my eating, my drinking. And I'm doing a good job. But it doesn't always pay dividends in the way that I'm hoping it will. And I gotta believe that that's okay, because it's going to balance out somehow, someday. It's just gotta. Energy is conserved.

So I am conserved, too.