I listen to a podcast called Making It with Riki Lindhome. I have absolutely no interest in ever becoming involved in the entertainment industry. (Truly. I feel like lots of people say that but secretly harbor dreams of becoming wildly famous. To me, the thought of navigating that world is so repulsive it makes me physically cringe.) But I love this podcast. It inspires me to create and aspire… there’s something just good about surrounding yourself with creative, driven people. When I’m working nine-hour days, and the only people I see are unsatisfied, unfulfilled middle-aged women drudging through another day at the office, and the only thing they say to me pertains to how close we are to five o’clock…this podcast is really helpful for my sanity and general happiness.
This week, I listened to an interview with Daniel Stessen. The following quote is rather lengthy, but it would help if you read it, because I’m essentially planning on devoting the rest of this post to it.
“It’s so easy to go crazy. If you’re like, halfway good at anything, it’s so simple to go crazy. And you just can’t. I think a real person, a real woman, a real man, they stand up to that and they don’t get beaten down by their other side, by the side that creates or the side that’s funny or the side that’s this or that. They fight against that side and they pay their phone bill and they go see their parents at Christmas and they’re able to, like, get a gallon of milk. You know? They’re able to function as much as they can, ‘cause it’s just, it’s so easy to lean on “I’m an artist” and I’m wearing this now, and I look like this and I act like this because I’m really good at guitar. It’s like, go fuck off, man! You know? It’s like, be a good person. Like, who raised you?! Get it together! I would be embarrassed if I lost my mind, if you could feel embarrassed while you’re losing your mind. I think it’s so easy to go crazy. Everyone is so close to going crazy.”
I always find it so comforting when another human voices the things you think. It doesn’t make me feel less unique or less of individual, but more validated and… not crazy. I feel like it is so incredibly easy to go insane. To give in, to embrace all that hipster nonsense and take it beyond the level of being and straight into literal insanity– that might be the easiest thing in the world. So many kids in this scene (the word “scene” feels obscene here, but it’s the most fitting thing I have at the moment) glamorize this craziness. There’s this idea that you have to experience visceral pain and be incredibly strung out if you’re ever going to truly create. And it’s just such bullshit. A moment before the “It’s so easy to go crazy” monologue, Mr. Stessen said,
“I read this thing that David Lynch said that people think that you have to struggle in order to create something, but really, the more at peace you are with everything, the more naturally the ideas flow in because nothing’s blocking them.”
I believe that entirely, but I’ve found it’s not always easy to be at peace. It’s so easy to go crazy but it’s not always so easy to stay sane. I feel like I’m constantly struggling just to keep it together. Like, I just want to keep my house clean, but no matter how hard I scrub, how many hours I spend brushing dust into a pan, it still feels like I’m just smearing dirt around the floor, grinding it into ancient life-stained tiles.
Or, I’ll realize it’s seven o’clock and I haven’t eaten dinner, and I also didn’t eat lunch or breakfast, and come to think of it, I may not have eaten yesterday either. But it feels like such an effort, to get all those dishes dirty for just one person. It’s so much easier to make a cup of tea and read a book. I’m not planning on running a marathon, or running anywhere. It doesn’t take many calories to sit and read a novel. It’s not laziness as much as an aggressive disinterest in routine.
Those routines are such an important part of not going crazy, though. Everyone is so afraid of living a life of quiet desperation, and they look at their parents and their routines and think, No. I will be an artist. But that kind of life, where the dishes are never clean and you are never not hungover, and you only ever want to discuss your pain… that life isn’t sustainable. I think it’s important to go and have fun. Don’t not do things because you feel like you have to stay home and meticulously scrub every dish you own. Dishes can sit in your sink and the world won’t end. When you decide to uncompromisingly not care, that’s problematic.
You can’t create like that. Or, the art you do create isn’t going to mean anything, because getting to that point requires alienating everyone in your life. And that’s not really a life worth living. I know all this and I still think not going is crazy is the hardest thing in the world. Some days I’m so certain I’ll just float away. None of my ideas flow naturally because they’re all hung up on these crazed stressed out crocodiles that live in my brain, constantly doing that crocodile death roll thing and chomping at all my sanity. But I don’t want anyone to know about that because, god, how embarrassing. How embarrassing to be slightly crazy and totally sad and not a shining beacon of warmth and sunshine.
It’s a really difficult balancing act.
There’s nothing wrong with being normal. It’s good to pay my bills and to keep my house clean, even when the effort feels futile. But I’m not any less worthy or valid if I’m not always successful. I don’t have to be a paragon of perfection all the time, and make everyone happy and be a super great friend/sister/daughter. I really think that it’s telling myself those stories that make going crazy so easy. Those things are impossible things, and when I convince myself I have to be all those impossible things, insanity is all but inevitable. Because I’m going to fail. And that failure is going to be so crushing that I’ll want to give up and give in.
It’s okay just to be. I think the right thing is to care, to consciously care about yourself and other humans, to not passionately check out of the world of the living and give into that crazed depression. It isn’t always easy– god, it’s so hard sometimes. But I think you keep trying, and one day, maybe, it won’t be so hard. Maybe I’ll stop feeling like I’ll float away and my ideas will flow naturally… and maybe I’ll be able to write a blog post more than once a month. How embarrassing.
I think I’ve largely failed to form these star-words into a coherent non-tangential constellation, but it felt good to write them anyway. I hope you are well and not crazy and I hope to see you again soon.
PS: The PC part of me would like to apologize for the heavy usage of the flippant term “crazy”. Mental instability and mental health are real and valid things and I should be better about being sensitive to that. But I can’t be betterbetterbetterbest 100% of the time, and that was kind of the whole point of this.