If you were to grab a remote and somehow channel-surf through my brain right now, this is what you would see: Click: A highway out West, deserted except for the tumbleweed that blows past the camera, maybe a buzzard circling in the sky. Click: A front yard of a house. It’s night, and you’re basically watching the grass grow and listening to crickets. Cricket, cricket, cricket. Click: Somewhere in outer space. Just a bunch of stars, no starships, no Jedi, no Captain Kirk. It’s pretty quiet out there on that final frontier.
There you have it. This is what is going on with me mentally. Nada, zippety doo dah. It’s pitiful.
If you are that unfortunate combination of a creative person and a Type A, you sort of base your self-worth on your latest achievement. Over the last few months, I finished three publications and a book. The three publications all had roughly the same deadline, so I was really hauling it there for a couple of months. The big white board by my desk was covered with the list of stories I was working on. Eventually, they all got checked off, and that was a great feeling. In the cycle of how I work, I went from hopelessness — “I am never going to finish. This is not humanly possible. I’m going to let everyone down because there is no way I can get all this done.” – to cautious optimism as balance tipped on the white board. One by one, the stories got done, and one day there were more things checked off than not. Then I finished.
Then it was the holidays, a frenzy of decorating and buying presents and wrapping them and buying food and eating it, and practicing for our church’s Christmas concert and playing the piano for the kids’ Christmas pageant, and feeling guilty that I didn’t send out any Christmas cards, and managing to do a handful for the neighbors on our street, no one else. I didn’t have a good family photo to make into a card, and the wind just kind of left my sails. I lost steam. I pooped out.
Today, school started back up, and I figured I would have a surge of productivity. I took Josh to school, came home, walked the dogs, and went back to bed. Cricket, cricket, cricket. I managed to force myself to put a roast in the Crock Pot, so dinner is taken care of. What I really want to do is sit on my rear end – may I digress here and say that this figure of speech doesn’t make sense; who else’s rear end would I sit on? – and watch TV, and maybe hold the scarf I’m knitting so it looks like I’m doing something, but really, I might just do a couple rows, and that’s it, and then I’ll bust out the big bag of Peanut M & Ms I’ve had my eye on. The Christmas tree is down; I managed to get that done. The outdoor lights are still up and will be indefinitely; I like them. Even if I didn’t, the way I feel right now, they wouldn’t be coming down any time soon.
I feel bad for feeling like such a dud. I told my daughter about it, and she said, “Creativity ebbs and flows. It will come back.” But, due to the unfortunate personality combination mentioned above, all I can think is, “I’m never going to produce anything again. I will never have another surge of creativity. This is it. Where’s the remote?”
I told my dad about it, and he told me a joke: A traveling salesman is lost, and he sees a guy sitting on a porch. He gets out of his car and asks him for directions. The man indicates which way he should go with the absolute minimum of effort, just barely pointing with his foot. The salesman is disgusted, and says, “If you can show me anything lazier than that, I’ll give you a dollar.” The man mumbles, “Just put it in my pocket.”
So there you have it, people. Cricket, cricket, cricket. ET, phone home. Cue the tumbleweed.