The Latecomer

I can't help but find this entry altogether appropriate, seeing as it is nearly 23:03 in my studio, and I am working late (at least by my own standards) to get my second blog post published before tomorrow. That gives me exactly 57 minutes so here goes.

I could give many explanations for my tendency to run behind, come late, sprint through train stations carrying all manner of satchels and at times luggage or studio equipment in the name of adding to the present list of eccentric artist stereotypes. Since moving to Australia three and a half years ago I've learnt to carry a great many things on my back while riding a skateboard or bicycle, as to begin with I didn't own a car. *Sidenote: I once rode all the way from Collingwood to Northcote while holding a metre x metre portfolio to avoid taking it on the 86 tram. 

This sort of carry-on has never failed to amuse me - high on the mingling sensation of pride and embarrassment one gets from risking all sense of self-composure for the sake of art, adventure and catching the last regional train home to Ballarat on a Thursday night, but as I said, there is another explanation for my tendency to run behind.

I put it down to my being the youngest child by eight years in a family which allowed me in large part to run free and make my own fun as a kid.

Somehow I've never been able to reign myself into a regimented or restricted timeframe. There's always been a little part of me that wants to escape, to rebel against the systems I use in an attempt to hem in my inner child.

To give you some background information on the case, I have a brother and sister, who pretty early on I learnt about through legends my cousins told me. Stories filtered through about the lives they'd had before I came into being - stories of their wizardry and resourcefulness in constructing a trap for an unsuspecting babysitter, using a humble pine-cone, and long piece of string to make a flying-fox type contraption leading from our top story window to the Pohutukawa tree in our front yard. Need I elaborate. There are many others including the time my eldest sister made her own blackboard on my family's kitchen wall with a crayon, when she got tired of waiting for our dad to build her one, and the bush trips my siblings took with my cousins, which I was at the time too young to go on. Growing up in a loving, albeit protective family I constantly heard (either directly or indirectly) "she's too little for that", or "that might be a bit hard for her", when mentioning trips, certain jobs, or entertainments that were certainly out of bounds for the little tot I used to be. But see unfortunately those voices stayed on even after I outgrew my 4 year old self and the family home in which I was raised.

Somehow, there still exists a little piece of me that feels like I'm fighting to catch up. Fighting to scream to the world I CAN DO IT! in the face of all the times I was told I was too small or too young to run with the big kids. To be out in front exploring new territory, treading where no human being has treaded before.

This is all well and good until you begin to feel that you must do more and more with your life to catch up with a standard that exists only in your head. When you tell yourself you can't do something and then tackle the thing (be it a phone call that scares you, beginning a new artwork on a blank page or having a great new venue open its doors for one of your gigs) this whole I can do it business can get a little addictive, and for a while that's indeed what I became. An art addict. 

As per the age-old story of the tortured artist, for a while there I admit that I was of such a breed. I made myself pretty sick with work a few years back, until events led me to take a break from my creative progress and I put a stop to my work in order to focus on my own well-being. "You can't have any sort of artist career without self-care", or so I've found in my own experience at least. 

Now, after a lot of self-care, and a break from some of my more gruelling work-art-sleep-repeat habits, I feel like I can actually enjoy making again.

But still this feeling.


Late and only getting later it tells me.

It tells me my life-clock is running out and that time is getting away from me, that I'm not doing enough with my hours to catch up to an invisible race I may never finish.

However these days I can recognise the feelings when they come knocking and I'm getting better at shooing them away when they do. 

I am by many accounts a grown woman, so with all the maturity and self-will I can muster, I smooth my skirts and tell the feelings to rack off because 'I've been working all day and now I'm going to eat chocolate and read a book thank you very much.

It's not 100% fool proof yet, but the pests are certainly more distant than they used to be, and I'm getting better at reminding myself that right now is exactly where I should be, and that I am not, nor was I ever, late (figuratively speaking).

That perhaps when my mum referred to me as 'the lid on the jar' (in light of our family make-up and in particular the gap between my two older siblings) she might have also been alluding to that wonderful feeling of Hygge, when one is calm and at one with their environment, in light of things feeling just right. 

Just the right time. Just the right number. Not running behind or needing to catch up to someone or something else in the distance. The older I get, the more this idea seems to fit. Like a favourite jacket or a practiced life motto, and I know if I can't feel just right in the present, in the here and now, then no matter how hard I work, or how many of life's opportunities I cram in, I will never feel just right further down the track. So on that note, I'm off for the night. A moonlit bike ride home from the studio, a game of mario with my best buddy and a good night's sleep. Til next time.