If I admit that this lockdown life is getting to me, what does that say about me as I typically work from home even under normal conditions?
Changed out all the liquid hand-wash bottles to the kind with shea butter, walked into the other room and pressed on the hand lotion pump once, changed my mind, pressed again. Rubbed the hand lotion, also shea butter-based for the moisturising effect, into my hands until they weren’t too sticky anymore. Still, they feel dry five minutes later. All this handwashing combined with the dry early spring weather is making them feel like paper.
Noticed that my nails need some TLC because they’re all uneven from when I cut them last. You know how it is, you think you’ve just arrived at the perfect length when one of those suckers breaks. And then the rest of them go down that same hill, one after the other.
Pop, pop, pop, until you’re so frustrated with that odd feeling of having some long and some short nails that you just pick at the rest of them until they all look like they’re been shredded by a tiny T. Rex. Going to cut them off after the first one breaks, is asking too much.
Emptied the dishwasher and filled it again, checked if any of the plants needed watering by walking from plant to plant with my index finger extended, ready to be poked into the next pot of soil.
Squish, squish. Wet enough. Squish, squish, getting there. Maybe on Thursday.
Looked out of the window at the birds swooping in and out of the tree next door. The neighbours on the top floor have the top branches at arm’s length from their window and keep a bird feeder right outside the kitchen.
I wish we could do that. But the tree under our window is too far away to reach. So, I content myself by looking out at our neighbours bird-feeder with envy and console myself that we can probably see all the birds better from our window.
This town is locked and closed, but life hasn’t changed all that much for us. We’re a family of introverts, empaths and highly sensitive individuals. We like our peace, our quiet daily routines and spending time together at home. Large crowds aren’t for us and when we can we head out into the country, to be with the horses and the wide-open fields. Which isn’t often enough, if you ask me.
The retired couple from downstairs is heading out again, as they do every morning. She walking briskly in front, he walking more ponderously eight feet behind her with an expression like his cottage was just burned to the ground and all his fish stolen. They’re heading out to photograph birds again, both armed with DSLR cameras and lenses the size of my forearm. I quietly wish them good luck in the hunt.
Not sure where to start my day. Need to write, because Google’s search crawlers don’t understand art and they can’t suggest my work to people on the other side of the search bar if I don’t write about it. Neither can the people searching if I don’t talk about what goes into my art.
Still, writing – about my art, about my thoughts, about my experiences, my stories – takes time away from the actual art making. Can’t write and paint at the same time. Finding the right balance between the two is sometimes like balancing on the edge of a sword, too much of either and frustration starts to creep into everything I do. I start feeling like I’m not making any progress and the negative thoughts start spiralling out of control.
Sometimes I feel like the stuff I write and the stuff I paint are entire worlds apart as if they have nothing in common. Besides me, I mean. But I’ll often finish a piece or collection, and when I start writing about it, try to open up my box of thoughts to others about what went into it and what it means to me, the paths tend to converge and I find that there is nothing new under the sun, or in the way I think.
Today the impostor syndrome isn’t too palpable, yesterday it was so intense I felt almost like a lemon being zested. Skin-rending self-doubt and panic swirling in a pool of self-loathing and catastrophising. Today I feel moderately capable and like I can still redeem myself if I work really hard and get really lucky. Really, really lucky.
I don’t do this because I want to become a big star. Celebrity has no innate value for me and I’m certainly not the next Da Vinci, Christie or Gaga. I’m just me, stressed and strung out from living a life unsuited to a quiet soul like me for the last 30-odd years.
I want to move to the country, live in a peaceful place, get away from the crowds and surround myself with my family and animals and trees and bees. I’ll be happy to write letters to the rest of you on an old typewriter and capture the daily humdrum of country life in Instagram stories: morning tea with the chickens, horses grazing in the field, flaming sunset skies and inevitably getting head-butted by a territorial goat as I bend down to grab the feed bucket.
I’d even welcome a visit now and again. I’d like to make a place where the quiet ones can come and learn from others who know the value of silence. Growing up, I was mostly taught by extroverts. Riding, volleyball, martial arts, athletics, school, pottery, dance – for the longest time I believed that if you’re an introvert you can’t be a teacher. That you have to be loud and pushy in order to be allowed to stand up in front of others and teach.
It took me a long time to realise that there is strength in silence, courage in quiet. Sure, I need a little more time but I’m capable of going deeper than most people ever imagined. I love exploring topics deeply and learning about all the little details and obscure methods that aren’t available to you if you just skim the surface.
I would have loved to have more quiet teachers, people who would have shown me that you don’t always have to be loud to be heard.
One day, soon. I want to pass it on to someone like me and see that person quietly and confidently grow into their full potential. If I can manage that, it’ll have been a life well spent.