I was driving the other day, listening to the radio - it must have been the 90s station - when through the speakers Jewel's "Foolish Games" came on. You might remember it: 'Well in case you failed to notice, / In case you failed to see / This is my heart bleeding before you'... and all of a sudden, I was transported back to high school, hearing this song pouring out of my tiny little stereo set, and all of the emotional volcanoes of my youth erupted to the surface.
Unrequited "love," feelings of not being good enough (for what? Boys? Love? Myself??), angst and self-doubt and turmoil... those were some ridiculously turbulent years for me and my emotions back then. I wouldn't want to relive them for anything...and yet, I remembered how I would lay on my bed with one of my countless journals, music playing in the background, and I would write and write frantically, trying to get all of the emotions and thoughts out of my head and onto the paper, more often than not with dripping down my chin and onto the pages. And I thought, why is it so much easier for me to write like that when I'm in pain?
Many blasé things are said about struggling artists and tragic authors, with the implication that those who are haunted and pained are somehow more creative, more in touch with their right brain - better writers, better painters, better at crafting beauty from the world around us. Is that true? Does poetry only come easily to me when I'm struggling, and finding things difficult?
I wrote a few poems when M and I were in the early stages of dating. One of them I really loved and I ended up finding a calligrapher to ink it onto special paper, then I had it matted and framed for him as a gift. He keeps it on the wall of our bedroom. I do think it is pretty, and authentic - and from a genuinely happy place within - but that's probably one of the last pieces of poetry I've written. I can't remember the last time I scribbled frantically into a journal, literally unable to stop until that wave of relief that arises from feeling fully emotionally purged.
Are there more layers to pain than happiness? Is there more depth to unhappiness than joy?
Sometimes I think that in being happy, we throw ourselves into those things that are solid and present and already creating happiness in our lives, thus keeping the cycle of contentment going. And then when we are unhappy or in pain, perhaps in trying to withdraw from the painful moments we end up retreating into ourselves, allowing our innermost thoughts and feelings to be truly acknowledged... Or maybe it is much simpler than that. Maybe it is only that when I'm in a happy place, I am just too busy with all of the things going on in my life that make me happy, that I just don't make the time to sit and be still with my thoughts! (It is certainly far easier to find quiet time alone when you don't feel like being around other people.)
These are the thoughts that wander through my head when I'm driving alone, and a sad song comes on. What do you think? Is there any merit to the 'unhappy people are more creative' kind of statement? Or is that creativity is always there, and I just need to learn how to unlock it when I'm feeling happy?!
Seeing as today is Wednesday Wishes with my friend Anne, I'd say that my wish this week is that I would take the time at some point to just sit in a quiet space, alone with my thoughts - ignoring any To Do list or blinking light on my phone - and just write in my journal. Even if it feels like nothing worth writing - just do it. Creating is always worthwhile. And maybe it will become a more frequent activity then!