Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Embracing the crazy

Last night I was telling a friend that each of us should have a way of dealing with frustration, getting through those times of self-criticism and painful helpless angst. And this way should ideally not involve sitting in front of the TV, alone, and gobbling up ice-cream. As I tried desperately and failed to offer solace, I came up with this whole idea of active hobbies versus passive hobbies, and how it helps to engage in an active hobby to vent your stress and frustration, without having to even acknowledge the true nature of your problem.

You see, while solving problems is certainly great, sometimes we just want to ignore them for a while, to feel better, if momentarily, for the sake of it. But then, I'm not sure something as passive as long hours before the television, drinking your way through your problems, or haunting Facebook and social media till all that remains of you is this bland permanent formless stare at the computer screen - where you essentially achieve nothing else but ignoring the problem - would help as much as an "active hobby." Creation does trigger some semblance of self-reliance, even if all you do is make coffee. The things I went on to suggest were writing, cooking and going for a walk, a run, taking pictures and making a conscious record of what one does so as not to lose oneself in unwanted thoughts. I don't know if I managed to convince my friend. I hope I did.

The concern was what came next. Me. For all my happy advice, our harrowing conversation that ended sometime before dawn left me completely exhausted and very, very annoyed at nothing in particular. I hate feeling depressed. (Okay, who doesn't.) But I haven't felt the needless desperation, or depression, in ages. Being homesick or worried about exams and people problems are all somewhat concrete. For once in my life, I decided to take my own advice. I could have written or blogged, but I prefer to be fully conscious when I write, not just edit - contrary to the apparently-misattributed Hemingway quote. (Tried and tested.) So I did something that didn't require presence of mind. I filled my new sketchbook, poor girl (yes, it's a she,) with pages and pages of mindless doodles with one principle to go on:


Inspiration struck at around four in the morning, and now I'm halfway into a pretty collage that could turn into something worthwhile. I don't know if I solved any problems but I did end up with at least the consolatory conviction that I am not good for nothing. Books, blogging, cats do make me relax but artsy-craftsy stuff is my go-to way to deal with the awkward inexplicable sorrows that come out of nowhere and grip even the best of us. You, not unlike me, may have already found your own ways to deal, but you should give this a try. The best thing about art is that there's no right or wrong. One time, I spent three hours tearing up pieces of paper and cutting up old clothes and then made bookmarks out of them. I probably sound crazy. But that's my point: embrace the senseless, absurd, ridiculous. Years ago, when art was all I thought about, Keri Smith taught me to make a mess. It's good to be crazy every once in a while. It makes being sane the rest of the time much, much easier. (I feel I'm paraphrasing someone here, but the credit goes to me till I remember who.) 

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