On the other side of anxiety, I always feel a mixture of amusement and renewed lucidity, secured by a corrected sense of what is and is not reality, grateful that I can see the truth plainly. Unlike my husband, who gives me incredible grace in this area, I regard the part of my brain that believes in the anxious and ridiculous with impatience and disdain. As a writer, I am grateful for my imagination, but when my anxiety is at its worst, I wish for the rational, calculating mind of an accountant or a doctor.
Extravagant meals are neither possible nor advisable every single day. But there is a way to weave an everyday extravagance into our spaces; it depends not on expensive food and furniture but on sacrificial care. In a culture of perpetual indulgence and breakneck busyness, the less tangible resources, like time spent, convey the most meaning. A loaf of homemade bread. A simple centerpiece cut from local flora. A guest bed with turned-down sheets and freshly washed towels.
There is never a simple answer to the question I am frequently asked: “What do you do with your time when not touring or playing music?” Perhaps the better question is, Why do you do what you do? Why cull together (more like cobble) a mishmash income year-in and year-out — each year the same, each one different, each one in hindsight a miracle? The years carry with them the same struggle, the same burden, only clothed in different hides. Some years are grimier, more pungent than others.
That word: struggle.
We, as creators, need to acknowledge that we are ourselves created, that we are characters in a bigger story. And when we empty ourselves of the responsibility for striking the creative spark, when we understand our “gift” as something given to us, something we don’t deserve and can’t earn, when we open ourselves up and confess our weakness in our own sub-creation, we are open to the perfection of a strength far greater than our own.
In this season, I’m hoping to find my way with fewer people in the house and more solitude. I’m not naïve enough to expect perfection, but I do need time. As any writer knows, you must show up regularly to get your work done. It must be given priority and long hours of concentration. I write best if I start first thing in the morning, which means pushing everything else aside: walking past the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink, not starting a load of laundry, resisting the urge to restore order in the household, and going directly to my desk.