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Creative Living - Weeks 4 & 5 - Chaos and Resistance

Reem Alhalyan location_on United Arab Emirates, Sharjah

If you're wondering why I didn't write a blog last week, let me start by saying that I've been wondering the same thing. I've had to reset, do a bit of self reflection and recalibrate. This blog might be a little different from what you're used to, so please bear with me. 

I did write a blog last week but I found it impossible to turn into a coherent post. As time ran out, I felt frustrated with myself, I blamed my inner editor for not cooperating. Finally, as an act of kindness, I thought it best to let it go, take a break and start over later. 

Week 4 was challenging. It started with a mindset of keeping balance and ended up in chaos and frustration. That being said, it helped weave the narrative and set the tone for Week 5, which is resistance. By looking at what created the chaos in the first place, it led me to look at the internal resistance I was facing. All things considered, I hope this post can resonate and help fellow artists that may come across this conundrum whilst trying to keep the creativity momentum flowing.

We all have ways of coping in life. It's very natural for us to seek comfort when we're thrown off balance. One of my coping mechanisms is reading. Losing myself in another world is very therapeutic; reading calms and recharges me. When I found out that I had to try reading deprivation* for one week, I honestly teared up at the thought. I read every single day and I didn't think I could go a whole week without it.

The comfortable routine I had built suddenly wasn't working and I lost my footing. With the rug being pulled from under me, everything turned into chaos. I had to weather the storm and survive it. Do you know the saying, when it rains it pours? That's what happened on Week 4. 

I had a deadline coming up that was heightening my anxiety. I had a couple of dates with friends for the first time in weeks. And my car decided to quit in the middle of the week. With the increased time constraints, not being able to read, not being able to be active, not being able to take a drive to clear my mind, my stress levels were at their highest since I started this experiment. 

How does one respond to chaos? I don't think there's one specific way. When I look back, I think I did my best to survive. I was honest with myself about how anxious and emotional I was. There were tears shed and long conversations had with supportive friends. I received wonderful advice that helped me shift my perspective and to be kinder and gentler with myself. I was reminded that I always persevere, so I did. During week 4, I simply survived the chaos, and I was rewarded by being able to read again. 

I really thought that having what was taken away from me back would suddenly fix everything. But the chasm the chaos created was like a deep weeping wound. Why was it so hard to write the blog for week 4? Why was it hard to write the blog for week 5? Why am I procrastinating other tasks? What am I hiding from? What am I afraid of? Why am I struggling so much to work on the new poem I started? These are all questions that have come up in the last two weeks, and asking them had lead me to the same source. Fear. 

Fear that no one wanted to read my blogs. Fear that I'm not using my time wisely. Fear that the well of creativity will dry up. Fear that the ideas will run out. Fear of creative block. Fear that I've already created my best work. Fear that I can’t translate the idea in my mind into the real world. Fear that non of what I create matters. Fear that I can't create anymore. Fear that I won't be able to create. While all these fears are valid, and true, they remain to be surface fears. 

These are feeling that many artists and creatives are familiar with, and have probably faced one time or another. As fear grows, it causes a domino effect. No wonder I've been struggling lately. I got scared and I got into my head and convinced myself that what I create doesn't matter. Identifying the fear is one thing. Finding everything under the surface is a whole other beast. Resistance normally comes up when there's unidentified fear within us. 

Practicing self kindness and journaling, has helped me identify the problem. I recognized that the resistance was strong because I didn't want to deal with the pain and the fear. However, resistance was taking me away from the practice. Like self-fulfilling prophecy, I was recreating my own fear of not being able to practice my creativity, but at least I was in control. The mind is such a beautiful mess! I knew that if I practiced journaling, that the truth will eventually be revealed to me because it asks me to be real and authentic. This is one of the constant struggles for creatives. 

Fear made me avoid writing this blog because I didn't want to appear to be struggling. Fear made me think about quitting this experiment and it was too embarrassing to admit. Fear made me think about history repeating itself. Fear made it impossible to create because I was thinking about whether or not being an artist would ever provide for my financially like a steady job would. Fear made me worry about my future. Fear made me weary of the unknown. Fear made me uncomfortable. Fear almost made me quit. Fear makes me feel like I already failed. 

I don't want to admit any of those fears to myself, let alone anyone else. Not recognizing my emotions has made it harder to focus. The whole point of morning pages is to allow my mind and emotional body to speak, because we constantly silence them. By letting them speak we make room for the truth to come out. I like to believe that we make room for light to shine through, cleansing and making space for love and creative flow.

Over the last 5 weeks, and for a long time before that, my creative practice has become increasingly important to me. And while I acknowledge my joy and love for this practice, I didn't know the depth of this love until last week. This practice has become sacred to me. Creativity has taken a very central role in my life, and I've fallen in love with it. I’ve never had love that lasted, so, naturally, I fear losing it and I don’t know that I’d survive such hurt. 

This is where I am after chaos and resistance. History will repeat itself. However, I'm not the same person I used to be. I'm older, wiser and stronger. I'm open, honest and I know exactly why I'm here. Fear withstanding, there's no where else I'd rather be. I still have a busy schedule. I still have a lot of things I want to explore and time is not magically increasing. I will continue to write, paint and create. And there will be a new blog next week, or the week after. 

I will always find a way to navigate through life and it's curves and obstacles. Not by being a perfectionist or pretending that I’ve got it when I don’t, but by being honest with myself and showing up for my creative practice. 

*Reading Deprivation: Julia Cameron gives this exercise in her book “The Artist’s Way” in Chapter 4. For one week, you are not allowed to read anything, because Cameron believes that artists need to clear out all the distractions for force us to reflect on our inner silence. In that, I believe the exercise was a success, if not very difficult. 

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