There’s nothing like the post holiday blues to really stifle the creative in us. All of a sudden, we’re looking at the end of one year (giving ourselves a hard time for all we DIDN’T do as opposed to what we DID) and the beginning of a new year which, let’s face it, looks an awful lot like a blank page.
I know I allow mood to influence my daily writing. Especially after the all-too-common holiday overindulgence when I’m sated as an ancient Roman on a barcalounger. I get depressed with my own lack of self-control and laziness, and won’t write. I feel useless and then set about proving it by continuing to do nothing about it.
Here, during the longest nights of the year, in the dark hours before dawn, hide the biggest diamonds. You won’t know this until you look; until you dig deep and dig when it’s hardest. Go ahead and let the darkness in. Pull it around you like a cloak. Hide beneath the hood of it, pen in hand. Then dig.
Last night I dreamed I was trying to get into the Air Force pilot’s program. In order to do this, everyone had to pass a series of tests, one of which included being wrapped tightly in some mummy-like material and locked in a steel box for an undesignated period of time. I’m not sure what they were testing–your ability to remain with the plane at the bottom of the ocean like a good captain perhaps?
Like any sane person, I kept putting the test off while completing all the other requirements. Claustrophobic as hell, I just couldn’t bring myself to submit. So I went to the little group garden spot where we each were allowed to keep a small plot that belonged exclusively to us. (Are you picking up on the death inferences?) Mine, however, was at the end of a row and was consistently being run over by the maintenance man on his riding mower. My little garden was all short and stubby, pitiful as the ones we tried to work under the heat dome here in Arkansas this past summer. From a distance the green looked beaten up and barren.
Sorrowfully, I dropped to my knees to see if there was something I could do to help it. To my great surprise, I discovered green beans growing. Digging in, I found onions, beets, even carrots under the black soil. Soon I had a small basketful of the jeweled fruits of my labor in hand. Happiness and pride swelled within me, and I was even able to track down the murderous mower and get him to agree to quit chopping my crop. I never returned to the scary test. It’s only purpose seems to have been to propel me towards my garden.
Don’t get all caught up in analyzing this dream, my Jungian and psychologist friends. For all you know, I’m making this up. Simply accept the point I’m trying to illustrate: Don’t give up on your art just because you got the “morning after” depressed and sads. Even if you have to, metaphorically or otherwise, get down on your knees and dig among the fear and despair that pass for our gardens of joy and fulfillment at times. Remember this: the roots of the Blues were buried in dirt just like this. Somewhere in there may lie the perfect words that will feed your soul and bolster the hearts and minds of others, too.