A seesaw appears to be a binary. Either you’re up or down. Emotionally it’s easiest to imagine this as you’re happy or you’re unhappy. Stressed or not stressed. I am often stressed by responsibility so naturally I dream of relief. How wonderful it would be to roll the backpack of anxiety off my weary shoulders and shove it deep into the closet, not to be hoisted again until next season. I wish for this so often. I am delusionally imaging a world of equilibrium. I think if I am not stressed about too much to do, I will be in a stasis of happiness.
No. Stasis does not exist, it is merely the briefest moment of passing through the fulcrum from one state of anxiety to the next.
I noticed this last night. I was taking stock and feeling pretty darn good about my week’s accomplishments. I had managed to do so much! And the future was looking a little less hectic. It’s as if I had been stuck in the up position of the seesaw for a month by an elephant of labor who either refused to pump his thick legs up and down or who was just too large for it to be effective. But miraculously, he had shrunk in size and I was slowly floating down. Happiness is just on the other side! Here I come!
I felt total bliss as the board evened out, me and the now skinny elephant smiling across from each other, perfectly aligned, our eyes meeting in joyous anticipation.
How brief was that joy, how fleeting that sense of ease. The skinny elephant suddenly transformed into an emaciated rodent who flew up in the air as my terrified butt whacked the ground. Thrown from the game he scurried away, leaving me unable to go up again. What if I don’t get any more work? What if all the jobs dry up? What if I have nothing to do? All the anxiety was back, just a mirror image.
Too much or too little. Those are always the main course. The hoped-for sense of ease is a momentary movement in between.
I am glad I could see it so clearly. And the metaphor helps. Possibly the thing to do is get off the damn seesaw.
Illustrations by my brilliant husband, Andy Norman.
If the choice is some potato chips or no potato chips, I prefer some.
Of course, I have habits and vices that get over indulged. I am thinking of you coffee! When the window between those times narrows, I know I have to dial it back. Not because I am a good and disciplined person but because I fear real discipline. I should probably quite caffeine for a few days but how about I just go back to two cups a day instead of four?
Moderation is a strategy of having one’s cake and getting to eat a few bites as well.
This only works when you aren’t battling true addiction. There is one substance I am totally prostrate to, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. Once the bag is open, I have to eat it all, as quickly as possible. This is going to get gross for a second so skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid a visceral description of eating. I don’t even swallow fully before more goldfish go in. Apparently, I want the crunch and the bolus together. Yuck! I feel all that cheesy mass gathering behind my molars and yet I don’t clear it, I just keep inserting the crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
It’s hard to say if what is happening is enjoyment. It’s almost like I want it to end more than I want anything else and ending is not stopping but just getting the stuff gone.
It’s so bizarre to me because I don’t have this with anything else. OK, one other thing. Pringles. I guess I really like salty/crunchy. But I can and do make a can of Pringles last two days. Otherwise I’m okay. We always have an opened bag of corn chips and though I sometimes eat a regrettable amount, I do stop. I don’t require the absence of the chip to end the session. Who knows why some things are irresistible but those things have to be eliminated. I just can’t have Goldfish. I don’t buy them. It’s that simple.
I don’t care about giving up Goldfish. They mean nothing to me. I do care about coffee. I really don’t want to give it up. I think moderation is a good strategy if it can be achieved.
I am always thinking about doing art. For someone who thinks about it so much, I am agitated I don’t do it more. I suppose it’s because I want the conditions to be just right and I also want to do easier things like read. It’s so easy to read.
Saturday, I made so much art. I assembled and photographed a bunch of new Sidewalk Faces. Cute ones! I need some cute ones. Saturday night I did my abstract marker drawings. Heaven! I was in that lovely place: adventure, excitement, danger, knowledge.
So what happened Sunday? Good and bad. I took my camera to Runyon Canyon with the dogs and made several faces. Alright! When I came home, the afternoon was all clear for drawing. Instead, I ordered a takeout sandwich, scarfed it, lay down on my bed with a book, read 45 minutes while consciousness drained away and napped until almost evening. Husband woke me up with a question about dinner. It’s my turn. Agh! I started reading again to wake up, I hate napping! Then at 5:45 pm, a pretty late start, I get my ass into the kitchen and throw down a coconut curry.
A decent evening ensued but what happened to my plans? Why didn’t I do what I was telling myself I wanted to do the most?
P.S. This essay, like the 2nd half of yesterday, didn’t go at all according to plan. I thought I was going to write about how it feels to be doing art, not how it feels to not be doing it.
Maybe later. Always good to have a topic to explore later.