I’ve written in previous entries that the intention of this blog is to write honestly and not to shy away from vulnerability in my posts. Dealing with some of the issues written about in this particular entry has been hard for me.
It’s difficult to admit that as an artist you might be struggling to keep up with your own expectations, or anyone’s expectations for that matter.
Moving to Ballarat from Melbourne almost a year ago has caused me to check my creative approach in a number of areas. Before I moved here I worked non-stop. I had a studio at home and my work was always just a room away. I balanced shows and recording on a number of different audio projects with a part-time job in a kitchen and taught piano on the side. I was sharehousing at the time and it wasn’t unusual for me to just hit another round of work when I got home and start again the next morning. Part of me just assumed this would naturally lead to a happier existence. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned previously, that was not the case for me.
It’s not that my art didn’t make me extremely happy, but by pushing myself this way I was completely missing out on connecting with my wider community because I was so set on continuing my own stringent schedule.
It’s hard to say whether this past year has been a step back from a workaholic lifestyle to think about how I might turn it in a different direction - or whether, in hindsight, I’m just making excuses for having fallen off the wagon since I’ve relaxed my work habits. Lately, these definitions have seemed more and more hazy.
I’ve had a substantial break from writing over the last two months while working on installations for Ballarat’s first White Night; finishing a music video for Big Bear (release date to be announced soon) and having my first trip to Alice Springs for the Blacken festival where I was fortunate to be wo-manning the lighting desk for some pretty insane acts. In between that I’ve been playing shows at The Munster Arms and Red Door in the Ballarat region and working Monday to Friday as an Education Support at Ballarat Specialist School.
For all that’s worth, I’m back. Ready to talk about my messy life - and help those of you who may share a similar reality to feel less stuck.
In my experience, some of my bravest moments took being scared.
I wrote in some of my earlier entries about ‘jumping first, asking questions later’ as my primary motto.
Lately, I have been feeling some serious internal opposition to living this way – in the moment; taking risks and throwing caution to the wind in order to achieve new goals and creative feats. Living in the moment requires risk, danger, throwing yourself into the unknown head-first and then learning how to swim.
In my case, the memories of where I ended up the last time I leapt before looking are still fresh in my mind. Needless to say, what came after some of my major leaps was a fair share of ups and downs, but for some reason my brain loves replaying the negatives.
Those of you who have read earlier entries of this blog will have heard my tales of surgeries; homesickness (look up Shadow Feet’s Christmas In Australia for more details) and the fears I had of failing at basically everything I’ve ever done to date, despite positive feedback I’ve had on most areas I’ve worked in. Before I came to Australia I repeatedly told myself I’d never get here. Before I studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, I told myself I’d never get in. I told myself all through high school that I couldn’t write music even though I desperately wanted to and now, having featured my music on multiple recordings with Australian indie label Airpunch Music, I’m on the way to recording my own album. There are many areas that follow a similar theme in my life, but the fact is, the cycle is still recurring - and I’m still working on being present and pushing myself to set new goals creatively and otherwise - without getting overwhelmed by the ‘what-if’s’.
Somewhere in my brain, I keep thinking, "if I push too hard; if I make my next big move; take my next foreseeable risk, something terrible might happen!" I might suddenly be thrown back into a world of hospitalizations and job insecurity, or I might be so successful that I have no choice but to fly all over the world and I’ll forget about all the people I love - worse still - that they’ll forget about me. I fear I’ll end up a workaholic; exhausted; burnt-out and alone - the list is vast and nebulous; there’s no telling when these thoughts will take hold or what might act as the trigger.
Something I’m currently practising is turning my brain off when I feel it going into negative overdrive and give myself a distraction instead - I don’t have kids, but I imagine this is the oldest trick in the book when yours is showing signs of a tantrum. Chucking a metaphorical lollipop in my mouth before havoc ensues.
Before I start panicking about the fact I haven’t written in a while, I take myself off to a café or somewhere I can be on my own and write. Or I get up early without having a reason to - just so I know I can do it. I clean or sit down at my piano or have a shower. Showers work wonders for changing brain patterns!
It’s been doing wonders to give my brain the reality-check it needs to stay on track - and retrain myself to feel good about the things I’m doing well - reassuring my brain that being disciplined on a regular basis isn’t going to land me back in hospital with stress-related illnesses or stop me from spending time with the people I care about.
On that note I’m off to do just that on this beautiful Sunday.
I leave you with this quote because I think this guy’s got a point -
“You can't get there by bus, only by hard work, risking, and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful: yourself”