It is 5:25 in the morning.
I have woken up from a nightmare, and between a racing heart and anxious thoughts, it appears that I have been taken back to a time when mornings had acquired this quality, of bringing torment, triggering anxiety, driving panic, and creating delusion. But this time, on this morning, things have changed—at least that I have the necessary strategy to rouse myself out of bed, reach for a glass of water, and begin controlled breathing. It takes a while to descend, to inhabit my body in the joy and comfort of its girth, its vitality but it happens; slowly, the heart comes to rest and the panic subsides. It is almost as if I have become accustomed to the escalation and the descent, timing it every now and then just so I could rely on this moment from the vantage of another.
Next comes the practice of carefully viewing the thoughts that have taken home in the space of the subconscious mind, the thoughts that created the nightmare that if I do not heed to them immediately will result in another such morning. I know I don’t want that. So, the first question, What is happening now? then the next few, What are the thoughts that are creating this emotion? Have I experienced this before? What are these thoughts trying to tell me? And, I know this bit in the act is scarier because the chances are, one of these questions will trigger the earlier state, sometimes for the worse. But on this morning, I have the answer, I have had the answer at the time when I went to bed the night before, I have had the answer five years back when this first started.
For two years, between August 2012 and August 2015, I stopped writing except for brief intervals, which were increasingly sparse, and with more uncreative days amidst them. This was a period of, if I could rely on my memory of those days, acute depression, disorientation, physical and emotional suffering, anxiety and suicidal ideations, to say the least. On the other end, it was a period of a coagulated state of mind, disoriented self-esteem, and more importantly, housing a sliced-up identity, as if the only way I was capable of existence was one identity at a time. I was a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, student, a young woman, agnostic, feminist, liberal, etc, in separate dimensions, each wanting to be independent of the other, but affecting the other in proportions either leading to their complete annihilation or temporary disbandment. Put together, this state is a state that I would not want for anyone; however, even as I write it, I know of many who suffer as I did.
The thing about creative pursuits, be it writing or any other art form, is that they are the easiest to give up. An unhealthy state of mind, lack of will or desire, pressing demands on one’s being, limited resources and opportunities, low self-esteem, surrounding toxicity, and certitude are only some of the reasons that this can happen. I have to admit, I have been guilty of some of these, at different points in time, and each of them has contributed to suffering, one that is acutely personal, prolonged, and utterly disastrous. Although in the present openness of the world, it appears to be that creative pursuits are easy, lucrative, quick to come, and often immediately well-received, the segment of the population for which this is true, is small. The rest of us, the ones riding the belly of the curve, the suffering from not pursuing creativity outdoes the proposed benefits of having pursued it. And, this imbalance in the equation, albeit unfair, is the way things are, perhaps so in order to inspire commitment, dedication, and discipline.
This is where I come to the inevitability of having to accept the answer that is staring at me, imploring me to pay attention to it. That I have been unfaithful, to my own creative pursuit, and of late been undisciplined, nonchalant, and deeply disrespectful of the pursuit, has played an important role in creating these nightmares and bouts of anxiety. At this moment of writing, I am also aware of how I have been trying to inspire (read push) someone (you know who you are) to pursue dedication when I have been precisely lacking it in my own life. Perhaps it is the weight of the days, on which I have been able to bring a satisfying excuse to delay by another day the commitment, discipline and pursuit that I needed to initiate immediately. But I know for sure that there is a disappointment (in myself) and shame of having done little to do so.
It is 6:50 in the morning.
A new day is beginning and the off-grid essayist, poet and naturalist Henry David Thoreau’s words come to mind, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” And, I too, come up with a prayer, “Give me the courage to understand the necessity of my existence even if it is only for myself. That on days, if (when) I lose the stirring in my soul, forget that I have survived only because of these bits of magical intervention, lose direction, I may find benevolent people (like this person) to correct my course before I lose too much. That I may have the sense to choose kindness over force, respect over denigration and a well-picked vocabulary over its poverty. That I may remember this each day.”
It is 7:14 in the morning; almost two hours since I woke up.
To myself: I will choose kindness over force, respect over denigration and a well-picked vocabulary over its poverty.
To you (you know who you are): I am sorry.