So I’ve been having a pretty shit time of things lately, and for no good reason. Things are going pretty good for me right now – I’m working hard on my thesis (even if I’m maybe not quite as happy about progress as I would like to be) and I have no major dramas or problems. But hey, sometimes you just feel like shit and that’s enough, right?
Like, we’re not talking ‘a couple bad days’ here and there, I mean like consistently being in a kind of ‘manic’ state for a couple weeks here. I’m vacillating between maniacal hysteria (I laugh at my own jokes a lot, but especially right now) and crushing anxiety over… nothing. Or almost nothing. I feel like I need a holiday, but I can’t really justify taking one because every day is precious at the moment. Or at least, that’s what I keep saying to myself as I peel back the days on the calendar counting down to March 2013. That’s submission day, and I want to have a solid, well proofed, mostly watertight thesis ready for then so I can hand it in, stick up my middle finger at the administration and hang around in North America for a few months. I’m set on going to NY for a while and just seeing what happens. Never been there before but I have heard enough, and know enough amazing people who live there, to know that even if I hang around for a month or more couch surfing I will probably not run out of things to do.
So the source of one of the major roadblocks to that eventuality is obviously this thesis thing, which is kind of at a bit of a standstill. I wrote a whole bunch for my talk the other week which I need to turn into a more fleshed out chapter, but I don’t really feel motivated to do that. So I went over to another section to do some work and flesh it out a bit, but found myself wanting to do more research, more reading, think different about it… So I bounced around from section to section not making a whole lot of headway (I’m enjoying some stuff I’m reading though, and plan to write a lot more about that, some of which has been flowing) but as October blitzes past it’s worrying me that I’m not churning out the daily wordcounts that I probably need (or would like to). But I guess I didn’t really set up a daily goal either, so maybe that’s a thing worth doing.
Whenever I feel anxious I feel like writing. I think that’s because writing is as much a part of my thinking as anything else. I think with my whole body (seriously), but writing is like the process of evaporation that crystallises the salt from the saline solution. It makes the salt easier to see and touch.
But what happens when I want to write, but I can’t write because what I want to write isn’t clear, or I want to research more? A negative feedback spiral, a weight on my chest, a tension in my jaw. I lose control of my emotions as they detach from any object that could be generating affect. Like the last space shuttle undocking from the ISS and preparing to head home, emotion spins in space on a fixed an immutable orbit. I search for an environmental source or reason for the affect and, finding none, ironically the affect and anxiety intensifies. I want to scream or yell or run away or somehow short circuit the process.
The only thing that really helps is music. Music is the mood regulator. Music reaches deep inside through my hearing and chances the tenor of experience, lays down a blanket of affect to cushion the fall. Music is an atmosphere that offers precious resistance, slowing the flatspin capsule jumpers and manic-depressive-types alike.
Music can be my meditation, when I can’t meditate (I don’t really meditate). There wasn’t really a point to this piece for you, reader, except to see perhaps the working of my hands and my mind and the thinking-writing process. I think I did need to get some of it out on paper, if only to remind my head and hands what it is like to write words freely and unencumbered. Sometimes that’s enough. I strongly suspect that is enough.