It’s been months since I had an appointment with my therapist. I’ve needed the time to work on myself before making further progress with him; a sign that I’m at a point where there’s a sense of direction, instead of relentless confusion and dread. Now it’s a matter of absorbing the concepts I should know by now, developing healthier emotional habits, and letting time heal what reason cannot. As my body recovers from the physical repercussions of depression, finding the energy to do these things gets a bit easier each season1.
As a result, I’ve been picking up new responsibilities in my primary relationship, which I have to carefully balance with my personal goals. Maybe that’s why my wants have become such simple matters. Some days, I look forward to nothing more than eating ice cream after dinner, or playing a game until my thumbs are raw. The distillation of my dreams has given me another childhood, which I’m determined not to squander.
Part of the reason I stopped taking pictures is because I needed to believe Heather was real. To prove to myself that she wouldn’t suddenly disappear and only exist as a collection of pixels on my screen, like others lovers of my past2. Mostly it was because everything was terrible, and just being conscious was a burden. Some days I was too sad to walk or eat, let alone decide what lens to put on my camera or how to frame a shot. The start of any relationship tends to be a time of wonder and excitement for me, but I don’t remember those years with particular fondness3.
Now that she’s giving me the time to pursue the goals I so choose, I have the chance to learn new skills and delve into unfamiliar mediums. The problem is that I constantly feel like an adult stuck with a child’s vocabulary. Most recently, when it comes to music: the complex emotions I want to express all end up coming out happy or sad, major or minor. It’s frustrating when any direction I take is met with the realization of how little I know about theory, how limited my guitar skills are, how unfamiliar the gaps between keys on the piano have become.
An added challenge is that I’m not satisfied with mediocrity, or even adequacy. I want to bend genres. To do something my own, and fucking love it. But I need to understand so much more before I can take apart what works and reconstruct it as something new, while still making musical sense and sounding good.
My motivation has always been driven by the results I can achieve. When it feels like it’ll be years before I’m at where I want to be in anything I want to do, the biggest bottleneck in my longing to create seems to be patience.
Maybe that’s why I still come back here, even though I’ve given up being as clever or competent as other writers. I used to enjoy having my own voice; now all I’m left with is a sense of honesty and a desire to express. The trend seems to be moving toward smaller snippets of information to catch shrinking attention spans — clickbait listicles and pictures of pithy phrases in fancy typefaces — a direction I’ve been actively resisting. I don’t want to say anything unless my words will matter, and nothing significant in my life nowadays can be summed up in 140 characters.
- There have been many steps back on the journey forward, enough for the progress to be indiscernible from a week-to-week (or even month-by-month) basis. [↩]
- It’s strange to realize that my drive to photograph things was partially a way of dealing with my abandonment issues. [↩]
- At least I feel secure in the knowledge that Heather stuck by me when I was literally at my worst. [↩]