Fallow Days

Aug 06, 2020

A corner of a potted plant. At the base of the stalk of the plant are two new growths of the plant, a succulent.Pictured: New growth emerging from the soil of a potted plant.

I've talked about this before, but I have a strange relationship with time. I would guess that a lot of people in recovery do. We have spent so much time in the thrall of our addictions and self-abuses, and those early moments of a new sobriety, while the shame clings to us, we tell ourselves stories of all the things we could have done if we hadn't been drunk or high or working or obsessed with whatever holds us hostage. And we suddlenly see our world, our lives, with what seems like clarity. Something we have not had in a long time.

Maybe I'm making assumptions. There are high functioning addicts and self-abusers who hold down careers and families and lives. But I think there are enough of us out there that let them stop us from the things we wanted to do (and blocked ourselves from doing, for whatever reasons we were unable able to admit).

For me, coming out of a drinking habit, I felt invincible and capable and like I might be someone who had worth. Someone who could live up to all that potential other people laid on my shoulders while I was growing up. And I felt that I was no longer permitted to waste any time. Time became my new obsession, new addiction, new self-abuse tactic. Respect for my time translated into respect for me (or lack thereof). And I filled every moment with something to do. It quickly go to the point that taking a vacation and traveling in places that at the time lacked ubiquitous wifi was the only way I could allow myself rest.* Our increasingly connected world has all but ended that form of respite. Which is good, for the places that are now connected, but also for me personally. I need to learn to allow myself rest.

In the last few years - funnily, while in law school and as a practicing attorney - I have reengaged with my creative soul and allowed myself to dream again of a creative life. My creative process - whether writing or performing - requires time. Lots of it, if I can have it. As a develop my craft, I can shrink this time somewhat, but I am my best creative self over a long timeline. And part of that long timeline is the need for rest.

I need to set aside my projects and let them develop out of view of my consciousness. They need space to grow and evolve and become.

And it's fucking hard to give them that time.

I worry I'll lose interest and never complete anything. I worry that by giving up some creative time, my job will take over and that rest will not be what it needs to be. I worry that the rest means I'm not good enough, not really an artists, not cut out for the things that bring me joy, fulfill and sustain me. Storytelling, whether writing or performing or otherwise, is the one thing I do where I don't feel like I should be doing something else.

And sometimes, I simply need to stop doing them. Because the "doing" is something other than actively writing or rehearsing. My creative field needs fallow time in order to flourish.

So I'm reminding that negative voice in my head that thinks I should be doing in a different way, that rest is important. To me. To my art. To my life.

But fuck, it's hard.

How about you? How does rest factor in to your creative life? How do you engage in rest?

*Travel for me is far more than about rest. I am a wanderer by heart. I wander my neighborhoods, cities, country, and the world. I do my best to be respectful as a guest in other people's lands, including the stolen ones on which I live.

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