I was listening to Neil Gaiman while I was cooking the other day to help distract me from the silence in my apartment. And he said something along the lines of that the things you want to achieve in your writing take time, patience and also being actively conscious in the world around you. He talked about how the things you write come from your experiences in both the things you consume -like books, movies, music ect.- and also the conversations you have. And this idea struck a chord with me, thinking about the everyday people I talk to and the things we discuss. It’s really difficult to remember what I say and how people subsequently respond to me on a daily basis. I’ve been catching myself replaying conversations, faces and reactions of others to my utterances and what I think I can see between the words. The unseen messages measured in their taut pursed lips or the slight creases in the sides of their eyes. And it’s been making me re-evaluate the relationships I have with people as well the the image I see for myself from the eyes of those who view me.
I open with this because there’s been a need for me to take mental stock of my current state of mind, my mindset and also just the overall mental-emotional state I find myself in right now. It’s been a taxing month and I’ve found that I’ve been perpetually ignoring my state of consciousness in the hopes of not having to deal with the present on a more intimate nature. I wrote in a recent essay that I inspire myself by taking the uncommon and making it routine, and that having been put in a difficult situation given enough time I can make what is emotionally and mentally cutting, manageable. This in no way makes it okay, but it does allow for a semblance of time that lets me take a step back and view myself from a distance. I’ve found that when I actively disrupt myself from being able to think about my circumstances, maintaining nothing but the present circumstances I am in now, I don’t do myself justice.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that even difficult situations can be made bearable, but don’t fall into the trap of fooling yourself into thinking that because you have overcome this obstacle, your mental and emotional state is therefore fine. Also don’t misunderstand me, I think being able to overcome your own adversities in any way you can, in a way that you can find bearable is a win regardless. A lot of people are faced with demands that are foreign and challenging and they might just shut down entirely. So I’m glad I have the capacity to cope with my circumstances and I’m glad I have been able to do the things I have done this past year.
I also want to say that this isn’t a reflection of something catastrophic or unbearable in my life, there is nothing right now in my life that I can say is so horrific that I’m barely able to manage. Instead, what I’m trying to stress in this musing is that it’s not the horrific things that are the only the problems we have day to day but also the everyday situations we find ourselves in that test us and make us adapt. Things that aren’t unbearable, but are still uncomfortable.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, I’ve been trying to write a full length novel for some time and it’s been very difficult to achieve. Neil Gaiman mentions in his work that if you’re going to tell a story it should be honest and have truth in it. That we as human beings tell lies to teach, through stories.
And I think, right now, that struck me as very powerful. He said we need to be vulnerable and allow others to read the things we have written and it’s interesting because the idea or the central theme that I want to portray in the book I’m writing has to do with mental awareness and of accepting people for who they are. I want to create a story that showcases that people all have driving forces behind their actions. I want my readers to be able see exactly what makes that person who they are and maybe even more so for them to be able to understand and have an emotional capacity that realizes the mental state my characters are in and why they find themselves there. I want to show people how to take stock of their current emotional states and to be able to accept or hopefully even improve them thereafter.
I say all this because a great song from 21 Pilots called Car Radio aptly describes what my current mindset and taking stock of myself has been like. The lyrics say things like, ‘Sometimes quiet is violent,’ and ‘I hate this car that I’m driving /There’s no hiding for me/ I’m forced to deal with what I feel/ There is no distraction to mask what is real.’
And I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think we’re all pretty similar in that being aware of where we are and how we are is a very difficult thing to figure out. That even being conscious of these things is a challenge in the day to day.
The song carries on with the words, ‘I ponder of something terrifying /
‘Cause this time there’s no sound to hide behind / I find over the course of our human existence / One thing consists of consistence / And it’s that we’re all battling fear/ Oh dear, I don’t know if we know why we’re here / Oh my, too deep, please stop thinking / I liked it better when my car had sound.’ And these lyrics are so eerily familiar it scares me. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot more music lately, from the same artists on repeat over and over. It helps me relax but also I think it helps drown out my own voice. Music helps me feel the musician at the cost of not listening to myself. And I love listening to music, but I think currently it has been stopping me from thinking about myself.
So how am I doing?
I think currently I’m keeping my head above water. I get this picture of me from when I was in high school treading water after a long days practice of water polo, when the fatigue has set in and your mind’s just a little less alert than it was at the beginning of the training. That point where treading water has become automatic, essentially an auto-pilot mode. And I think right now, auto-pilot is a good way of describing me. I have a lot of things that need to be done. I have visas to get, I have to get rid of all the things in my apartment, since I’m moving out, and I also have my last two weeks at school. So right now everything is reaching a peek, and I’m so mediumly overwhelmed, I’m coasting my way through it.
My girlfriend also went back home two weeks ago and I think ever since then I’ve felt almost whip lashed. I can’t really describe it but when someone really important to you has been with you for so long there absence is an actual space in your mind. Them not being there creates a physical absence in the place you live because everything you do with them has an almost expectant quality, so when you find them no longer there, there absence creates that presence. I guess feeling that absence but consciously knowing that the space is still there is pretty lonely.
But I think it’s okay for me to say, ‘I’m not fine but I’m getting to a point where I know I will be fine soon.’
This post has been very long winded but necessary. If you’ve read this entire thing, first of all thank you, and second, having read a little intimately into my current state of mind at the moment, I really hope it’s made you think just about how you’re doing right now. I never want to tell people how to read my works. I prefer for them to see themselves reflected through the topics I write about.
So in closing of this lovely long written homage to mental consciousness, right now the Tanabata festival in Japan is on. It’s known as the star festival and basically what it is, is people writing wishes on pieces of paper and hanging them up on a cut of bamboo. The festival is based on a famous story about two lovers who were separated from each other but were eventually able to meet if only for one time a year.
So this year for my wish. I really hope I can be a little bit more conscious of my state of mind going forward, and also that regardless of the situation I find myself in, I know that its going to be fine. Not because I can control the outcome of the things I face, but because I know what my mental state is, and with that I can accept and actively move forward to face the future and any new adventures that await me.