Stress, stupidity, and softwood

The Blank Space

In moments of stress, of internal conflict, my brain stops. Like quicksand engulfing my thoughts, the more I struggle to get my brain functioning, the more it fails to respond. I have learned to hide this inability; to suppress the urge to cry and hide. I build a protective shell in my head to try and cushion the blow. I have learned not to panic. I wait until I can be on my own and sit in silence, and allow my brain to untangle… which it eventually does. For a while I avoided challenging myself mentally for fear that I would induce this stoppage; but this simply halted recovery rather than help rebuild the mental skills I needed. I came to realise that the price of creativity is the chance that things will go wrong. And things do go wrong.

It’s not that I’m stupid; I have a degree or two and am fairly streetwise. It’s not that I lack the courage to step up to a challenge; I can handle stress as an external force. Give me a flood, a car accident, a fire, and I’ll be the most useful person around. I simply break under little pressures of my own making. A deadline is looming and I cannot afford to wait a few hours/days/weeks to have the courage to do things. I have to press on with the jobs at hand otherwise my show will not happen on time. And this is where things go wrong.

Yesterday I went to the hardware store and ordered some softwood split batons for hanging my work. At least I think I did. I wanted 7 pairs of batons but I have a feeling I ordered more than that… I may have ordered up to 3 times as much. A communication breakdown between an artist and a store assistant has been compounded by a total communication failure between my brain and my mouth. I left the store somewhat poorer but also somewhat confused. I’m not sure what I’m picking up later. Things have gone wrong.

All I can do to calm myself in such a situation is tell myself I have 2 more days after today to get it right.


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