Letters to the Void
An entry-level job application asked if I had a disability. Part of that question was a list of examples, which included anxiety and depression.
I have a consistent urge to create things — I doodle or fold paper, make rhythms with my fingers, tell myself stories and create worlds in my head. On a good day, an idea will turn into a half-formed attempt at something great, but it’s rare that I complete anything. There are a million reasons for this, all of which are within my ability to overcome; I lose passion for whatever I’m working on, get lost expanding the scope of an idea beyond my abilities to finish it, or most often, I just get distracted with another idea. This is coming off as whining, and I guess it is, but I do have a point: Why am I writing this?
Lately I’ve felt drained and dispassionate, wanting to work but instead sitting listlessly in front of my computer. I deal with depression, though I have a good handle on it — I no longer find it as impossible to enjoy simply sitting on the porch, feeling air on my skin, hearing the world, but still something calls me inside, to the slate where I create, only to stare at it blankly. Often I resort to playing video games, though I’m growing tired of those; I want to MAKE something, but how? The dark center of myself where my depression pulls me asks a far more insidious and intriguing questions: why?
I’ve been a, for lack of a better word, “creative” more or less my whole life. I found my identity originally as a musician, assuming that because it came easy it was all I could do, but as I’ve grown I’ve acquired a number of extraneous skills in storytelling, digital art, photography, programming — all things I told myself I could never do. For a while, I created just to prove that I could do them — and there are untapped depths I haven’t reached in every subject I’ve dabbled in, there is no doubt I could go further, but again the insidious question persists. It’s hard to organize one’s thoughts around such a vortex, but the truth is I don’t really want to make any of the things in my head — a painter does not paint so that they can look at their own painting, that vision is equally clear in their own mind. I’ve grown past the need for external validation as well — it means the world to me when people connect with something I’ve made, but I take no inherent meaning from their connection. So I ask again, why am I writing this?
I am tired, yet I am awake. I am bored, yet I do not move. I am stuck in nowhere, unable to move because where does one go from here? What do I expect to happen a month after I post something to the void, and how does that expectation change the work itself? All great works start with a question, and yet I constantly find myself devolving into them regardless of where I start. Is this the curse of self awareness? That would make sense of the maddening games we play, the rules we put on material reality like that makes the rules mean something.
Are you still reading? I hope you don’t feel like I’ve wasted your time, but what did you really hope to gain in exchange for it? If time is irreplaceable, then no matter what you do with it won’t be worth what you’ve traded it for. Perhaps all I’m doing here is killing time. I hope you got something out of this, even if it’s just a question to ponder. If a stranger wrote this and I stumbled upon it, I probably wouldn’t even skim it. Still, I can’t deny I feel better having submitted one more work to the void.