This is the second of three articles about how my philosophical & spiritual ideas inform my creative work. I’m writing these in spring of 2020 in the throes of isolation, presented with a unique opportunity to sit with my thoughts.
“Without contraries there is no progression.”William Blake
I’m never going to be a memoirist, any story is more interesting to write than my own & the practice of trying to weave it into something resembling a cohesive narrative is not a thing I particularly enjoy.
The truth is, I’m pretty ordinary — I’m fucked up in all the ordinary ways. & I’d like to believe that there are a lot of us are walking around with fractured faces. Our personalities cut into facets we show in different situations — work, & friends, & home.
& while I may be cracked a little deeper than some, I think there may still be some shine to it all.
I grew in a small, moderately rural, & fiercely conservative town. My family was inextricably entangled with the local Baptist community & while some leaned & currently lean politically moderate, the vast overall energy is & has always been conservative, Christian, & traditional.
There was never a lot of room for leeway & so when I got tired of trying to fit the role, I just fragmented. I kept the parts of my personality that were only mildly disappointing on the surface & buried the rest of it.
& it was with this coping mechanism that I came into the larger world.
When you leave the church-crowded highways & backroads of home, it’s not so damning to be mildly critical of Judeo-Christian religions or even some shade of political progressive.
I started blogging & writing online around the age of 12 (lol, yes fanfic but also emo poetry because I’ve always been an emo). & it didn’t take much research to find communities that were open & accepting of the things I hid from my family.
Yet I was soon playing the same old game, because I was also drawn toward romantic creative philosophies & Earth-centered spirituality, which in many agnostic, humanistic communities were considered beliefs indicative of intellectual weakness.
& so I coped as I do. I smiled & nodded while people unknowingly insulted me to my face — I’m kind of great at it. & for awhile being “a fucking moron” was better than “burning in a pit of fire & brimstone for all eternity.”
But once puberty hit, I realized that my entirely-normal, fragmented personality was housed in a body that a lot of my peers found unacceptable. I was gawky & ugly with “double tits” (my oversized ribcage does me no favors), until a habit of eating my feelings caused my body to change entirely.
By the end of high school, I had accepted my fate as an ugly & turned inward, hanging all of my self-worth on being considered smart. It was about that point when all of the fragments of my identity started feeling impossibly heavy.
Eventually the coping mechanisms stopped working, & things got a lot worse before they got better.
I spent a few years unarguably broken before coming out the other side of it. & though I was still fragmented, I gave less fucks than ever (Yeah, I’m skipping over a lot, but it’s pretty personal so indulge me).
As an adult, I remain a bit guarded & antagonistic of people who believe they know anything for certain. I’m no longer willing to give up on any practice that offers even the most fleeting glimpse of joy or wonder because of external critique.
Do I still struggle? Sure. I don’t think I’ll ever completely piece myself back together, but I don’t know that I need to. In some ways, the fragmentation & apparent contradictions of the different pieces, keeps me thinking & creating.
& yes, I wonder if I can reconcile my “woo woo” spiritual practice with my politics, with my art. I constantly ask myself if the different aspects diminish each other? If I’m hurting my potential career because I’m too politically or philosophically antagonistic?
But the thing is, I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling wrong, of feeling broken. I’m tired of feeling like I’ve never truly connected with anyone because I didn’t think they could handle the whole of me with all the contradictions & inconsistencies.
I had originally come up with the name “constellations” for this blog because I had so many hobbies, clusters of mediums I enjoy & I wanted to write about all of them. But there are also clusters of foundational ideas that are important to me, things I’m consistently putting into the code of narrative or poetry or song — the underlying engine that drives everything.
So, as I move toward writing more about my creative processes, I expect to write more about those internal drivers. & as I do, I’m going to push myself to be open, unafraid, & unapologetic.
If there’s a cost to it, I suppose I’ll find out.