Very little stops us as humans. Persistence hunting led us to out-walk our prey. You can only run so far, but you can walk forever as a human, barring disabilities. To that end, it is exceptionally frustrating that our minds, perhaps our social upbringing, demand we run continuously or cease movement entirely.
This holds me back — I cannot continue to run, metaphorically, to my goals, so I stop. I sprint as an interest sets in, reinvigorating love for artistic endeavors pulls me back into a happy place momentarily, and I run out of energy to continue. I want to draw again, so I do — I sit down to doodle, this time focusing on anatomy studies that I never actually took the time to focus on to begin with. An obsessive focus on anatomy exists within me to a degree some find worrying, off-putting, disgusting, and even I admit that my appreciation is better met within the horror community with their deep interest in gore than it does anywhere else. The deep dive into skeletal and muscular structure lasts for about five days, and then is tossed aside and forgotten forever. Something — someone — reminds me that I actually do enjoy writing so I focus more heavily on it. Something happens, planned articles all fall to the wayside, and I stop. A hand-stretched canvas exists in the back room and my eyes settle on it one day, only to find it placed on the wall as if it is some fine piece of artwork the next. I steal this canvas and I go over my old work with the intention of doing something new with it, something complete. I realize some days into this endeavor that wherever I thought I was with my skillset, I am not actually there. It’s gone over a number of times, and then it sits in the corner of my room, facing away from me so that I am not distracted by its incomplete state.
There is a balance here, something innate that I overlook, our tendency to just…walk. Literally, metaphorically, it never has to be an all or nothing deal, just get out there and walk. And I cannot.
At the beginning of the year, the stress of my grandma being back in the hospital with organizing pneumonia sent me off on a path of something deeply satisfying — digging endlessly through my things to throw out what I did not want. I wore myself into exhaustion, and in the end came out of it realizing that this was a great use of my anxiety-driven mind. The barriers fall sometimes, anxiety chews at my brain, depression seeps in and I am left feeling utterly worthless. But a continuous physical process alleviates this entirely, and knowing that is acknowledging a tool to utilize on the bad days.
It has also changed me. I’ve found myself digging through things again, cleaning, the past couple days. Going over the same areas again, going through small and unimportant things I hadn’t before to remove all of the tiny bits of dust occupying space in my life. I recognize that my inherent desire to accumulate little joy-bringing things has been placed into a different perspective now. Having received gifts from a friend visiting recently I had weighed out each item as I looked at it, knowing that some would hang out a while before finding their use, the project they belong in that I am actively, slowly, working toward, but also knowing that some would hang out waiting for the next garbage bag. It was far more upsetting to get a birthday gift from my mom and find myself calculating the items therein in a similar fashion (although I can safely say the card will hang around probably forever, and the Duo Kit Kat didn’t make it more than an hour before I did with it what I was going to do).
The problem comes in with the realization that I cannot just continue to avoid my bad days by focusing on this one particular technique — eventually there is nothing left to go through and clean up. The mad sprint to ‘clean everything’ would reach the finish line. In some way, it is satisfying to actually have reached that line, but it is a reminder that I cannot seem to keep that pace up and reach the finish line on any other project.
We come back to walking. Some things we can complete by running, but many things are a slower process, they require walking.
On a very literal level, I enjoy walking more than any other kind of physical exertion. Malls are okay, temperature controlled, ideal for getting a certain amount of steps in in a certain amount of time. Nature is better, the pathways can change and provide their own challenge, and there is nothing as calming as experiencing the dark tunnel in the forest when no one else is around. The creek nearby babbles, some critter hops through the undergrowth, bugs buzz about, and for a moment life is quiet and still.
It seems strange, then, that these peaceful moments are so difficult for me to find while I walk through projects. Perhaps it is a matter of rethinking, taking a deep breath and just approaching things from the perspective of it being a long walk instead of a run. The only way to find out if this works is to take that first step, conscious of the process being a slower trod and not a race.
A sketchbook created by the guts of others — I never do fill them out entirely — has materialized. It has already accumulated two pages of nonsensical, gory monster doodles, so it is not likely to house the next concerted effort of anatomical study. Readdressing the painting, again, will involve some more attempt at creating clouds (it is extremely frustrating to butt against the limitation of acrylic when more time would be a bit better to blend such things) and working slowly to add in each element. I dread placing the oval of a spaceship into it, but it will be worth it. Here I am writing again, a day after creating an additional account specifically to ramble about crested geckos (the idea was to put it all in one place where, if I share the content, it is not divided by personal rattlings).
Maybe by the end of a hike, there will be something to show for it aside from frustration. Just maybe.