Monday 17 July 2017

Do it anyway

I wrote this for one friend in particular, you know who you are, but it applies to a bunch of people.

It's the season for meltdowns. More than one of the writers and artists and teachers and community workers I know is struggling right now. Whether it's the collapse of a long-standing relationship, or the loss of a loved one, or the reminder of a loss of a loved one, or the everyday difficulties of parenthood or the enduring of a constant siege from mental illness, or more than one of these, or several of these, or something else, my friends, acquaintances and colleagues are hurting right now. And they're losing their faith in their abilities.

I'll be honest, I'm in solidarity here. I feel that every day of my life, right now. What good is my work? Who cares about it? What if it fails? Everyone worth anything has these doubts.

Maybe this is you right now. And all I have is this: do it anyway.

Do it anyway. Do it anyway. Do it because you have to. Do it because it is what you are compelled to.

Do it anyway.

I'm not being harsh here, and I'm not going to give you a lolly and say, "There, there." I owe you more than that.

I'm not going to tell you how great you are, because this isn't a thing that makes a difference here. You're probably tired and you're probably hurting and, oh God, I have no doubt that you put up with so much.

This is a horrendous feeling, that the thing that you see as the only thing you can do isn't worth anything, and my heart breaks that other people feel it, but it doesn't matter.

Do it anyway.

Maybe you won't feel any better about it at the end, or maybe you will, or maybe you'll go back and forth, up and down. That's normal.

And it doesn't matter. Do it anyway.

The act of creation is a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself. The honest act of creation, where you throw your self, your heart into it, especially when you're grieving hard for someone you loved, or you're suddenly alone in the wreckage of a career or a marriage, or there's this gnawing whisper telling you the world will be better off without you in it, or you're having to maintain the energy to be a loving parent (and it's no indictment on anyone to say that the act of loving your children is exhausting, and all the more exhausting because you don't get a prize for it, it's a baseline expectation), that act of making a thing, or teaching, or giving yourself in your work is really fucking risky.

It doesn't matter. Do it anyway.

You might be in a bad place right now because someone you loved betrayed you, someone you love has died, or something that mattered profoundly to you fell to pieces through your fault or none of your fault, or, worst of all, one of these things happened months ago and all the people around you are over it, and nonetheless your thoughts are not yet your own when you wake up in the morning and you've got no one but yourself to depend on.

It doesn't matter. Do it anyway.

You may not in fact be that good at what you do.

It doesn't matter. Do it anyway.

So what if you aren't so good? If you can see the shortcomings in your work, that's the first step to improving, but most of us have to do crappy work before we can do good work. You have to do it anyway.

In summary, if you've got this far, chances are you're hurting, you're losing faith in yourself, and I wish that I could say something magical to restore that faith, to bring you comfort, to soothe your grief, to ease things. I wish I could. I would if I could. I can't.

This is all I have: do it anyway.

That's all.