Give up mastery
I made a list of things to do when feeling sad—ways I could move against feeling overwhelmed (spirtually as well as emotionally). Ways I could prevent myself from disappearing into nonexistence. What I created was I think in some respects a useful document, but its language and conceit were fundamentally economic. I was still thinking in terms of generation: if I am not generating productive labour I can at least generate a productive emotional response. In the document I advise working when I’m in one of those moods, even if I am “moving slowly.” Acknowledging that I’m avoiding something but not doing anything to try to sit or understand why.
But sometimes you just need to move slowly.
If I have a block when it comes to writing it is acknowledging that sometimes you need to drill down, deeper into yourself, in order to understand your responses… I have for too long been obsessed with surfaces, their maintenance and preservation. You can’t know when you will return from the depth that you descend to, and that’s terrifying. You can’t know where it will lead you. It’s not something that you can plan the same way you can plan doing your tax returns. It is a process. But it doesn’t lead to a conclusion.
I sometimes like to imagine a perfect, crystalline future for myself. A moment in which I will feel sure, or understood, or fully myself. But in imagining that future I ignore my present. And I undergo a different kind of crystallization: I become covered with a brittle, hard shell, one that prevents me from seeing out even though it’s only meant to keep me from looking inside.
It also, as I am gradually coming to understand, keeps the outside from looking out. (If it is a bitter shell it is no doubt because of this frustrated looking.)
I should listen to those feelings because rather than pointing to something that I will obtain in the unforeseeable future they are instead telling me what I need right now.