I was feeling depressed yesterday. In truth, in started on Sunday evening, but yesterday while talking on the phone to my partner I was able to give the feelings some structure and more importantly to name them. I was at work and I was feeling frustrated. I had woken up a little heavy and reluctant but I have some pretty good tools in place for those kinds of mornings. So I was able to get out of bed , journal and then say some mantras out loud, to help get myself into a new head space. Honestly I feel uncomfortable revealing this stuff even though it’s the truth and I am 100% certain other people have some version of this in their own lives. Anyway, I made it through my morning funk and I got to work. But I was feeling extra guarded like I did not want anyone to really look at me. So I tried to just get busy with some project so my colleagues would see that I was focused and not try to talk to me. By the time my break came around I was near tears. So I texted my partner and asked if he could talk, thankfully he was able call me. I told him how I was feeling and I immediately started crying and as I was trying to understand where these feelings were coming from, knowing full well I might not be able to find their origin, in fact, I even said “It’s such an amorphous feeling of dread”. But then I said “I feel like I am staring into a void”. And that was it. That was the thing that made clear to me the what and why of my feelings.
During the holidays I was working a lot at a “day job”. I was able to work on a couple of play readings and do stand-up but the bulk of my time was spent working at my job. Now that the holidays are over I am back to working part time (two days a week), which leaves the rest of my time for creating and building my acting and comedy career, skills, body of work etc. Since the new year I have created a vision board (sort of), re-organized my desk (sort of), placed inspirational reminders in places that I will see everyday, made lists of habits that I would like to develop. I have made new to do lists etc. etc. All of these things help but these mostly represent the busy work, the admin work; which is VERY important. But the real work is the work of the imagination and the work of steering oneself (myself) towards that imagination and THAT can often feel like staring into a void. And in reality it IS starting into a void, but that is not a bad thing. A void is still full of something, it is full of your gaze, if you choose to sit and really stare at it. It is in the act of staring you fill the void. You fill it with your hopes and ideas and your imagination. It is important to spend time with the void. It feels scary but it’s a good scary. That void is your life, when you are not filling it with shopping, errands, appointments, coffee dates and other numbing agents. Not to suggest errands, maintaining a home, your health and relationships is not important but a lot of time we do those other things waaayyyy more than we need to, in order to avoid the void. But the void can be where great learning and change can happen. It has happened for me in the past, usually with great pain and desperation. Because I did not realize that the void could be my friend. I thought it was punishment because there was something wrong with me. But it is a totally natural part of being a human especially a human who is driven to create. But I actually think all humans are driven to create whether they are in “creative” careers or not.
So after my phone call with my partner I spent the evening thinking about the void and trying to fall in love with it. That may be extreme but I am an extreme person, maybe. I began to realize that the void is also part of that discomfort that we feel when we are trying to grow and change. The void is there when we drop one bad habit but have not yet developed a new good habit. There is no need to rush to a new habit if we can be comfortable with the void. My void right now is the space where I know I want to do more than I did last year and I want to build on everything I did last year, but I do not yet know what I am building. So I will sit and stare for a while and maybe an image will start to appear, or maybe I’ll take a break from staring and go for a walk and maybe I’ll see something outside and that image will makes its way into the void. Or maybe I’ll read an article, book, essay or see a movie or t.v. show or a play and maybe something in there will make it’s way into the void. Who knows? I just know that I am now less scared and more curious about the void and that seems like a lot.
Here are some things I recommend:
The Last O.G. on TBS- Tiffany Haddish and Tracy Morgan are excellent and they manage to actually tackle real topics. Also Cedric the Entertainer is always a joy to see in anything.
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff is excellent. I don’t quite know how to describe it. It is about a relationship but it’s full of magic and mystery and art and grief and humanity.
Waves- written and directed by Trey Edward Schultz. It’s very moving and kind of stunning.
Force Majeure- Directed by Ruben Ostlund. My jaw dropped three different times while watching this movie. It is excellent!