In the beginning, we cling to what’s familiar. For me, it was binging on Netflix. For some of my mates, it was gaming and blazing. But eventually, the novelty wears off. Or you run out of weed. And that’s when shit gets interesting.
That sinking sensation is intense. Overwhelming. The surface is too far away, you’re drowning in your own consciousness, with nothing to clutch on to, nothing to reel you up to the light; to the air.
So…let yourself sink. Go deeper. You’ll find the answer in the deepest reaches of your mind. It sits, dormant, waiting below.
Most of us spend our lives above the surface. We flit about, propelled by never-ceasing schedules and driven to shiny things glittering on the horizon. Always below us are the vast, dark waters of the psyche.
Some impressive individuals skim the surface, plucking out creative bits of flotsam and producing art. Some linger too long and get sucked below. Most descend at the call. The ones who emerge are different after. They, themselves, become art, and that which they share holds more vibrancy and depth than anything from the superficial world. It speaks of different dimensions.
The deep holds power. Also, pain and confusion. It breaks down and rebuilds. It requires solitude. When everything else comes to complete stasis, that’s where healing and progress occurs. It’s what I like to think of as “cocoon phase” — where you dissolve into a gelatinous mess in order to reform.
This is where we recognize and integrate the parts of ourselves that resonate the most. Detangle and defragment. We become the truest, purest forms of ourselves.
The Things In The Deep
The brain is an organic computer. Sometimes we encounter trauma that is too much to process, or avoid feeling a thing because it isn’t convenient at the time. When we have to conduct ourselves in a manner that is not congruent with our emotional state, our mind saves it for later. Sometimes we are not even aware this live flag is being planted. We overlook the way it affects other systems, as so many things take priority. It sinks to the bottom, where it sits. But it doesn’t dissolve. It can’t be assimilated until it is acknowledged. An emotional landmine. “You experienced intense sadness on 3/3/2012 at 15.30 — draft saved. Feel now?”
Underneath this, and all around it, there grows creativity.
Creativity is buoyant. By harvesting it, it will drift you back up to the surface. Not only that, but it will absorb the things weighing you down. The extra stuff left over from your metamorphosis. Raw emotion is what gives it power. It feeds on that shit.
My Cocoon phase
In May 2019 I moved to the undeveloped Vietnamese countryside from South Africa. Here, there are no malls, no pavements, and no one else speaks English. For the first time in my life, I was completely alone, with more free time than I’d had since nap time was a thing. I’ve never had a problem with being on my own. My mind is a busy place, and my interests are vast. So, I read books and watched so many series, went for walks, and napped. I was basically a house cat that taught English on occasion. Life was good.
One day, I woke up at 2am bawling my eyes out. I mean, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. I would have screamed had there been any air in my lungs. Grief saturated every fibre of my being. Over the next months, this happened frequently, at random times and without any warning. All of it stemmed from one source — my grandmother’s death.
Here’s the thing. My gran died in 2013. For over 6 years, I’d been carrying around enough guilt and anguish to cripple myself, without the slightest notion. Only when I stopped moving, below the clutter of distractions, it found me. Boom.
So, I surrendered to it entirely, and let it consume me. Instead of fighting it, I acknowledged what I was feeling, and examined where it came from. I let myself be heavy with remorse and guilt at my actions and all that transpired. I laid out all my regrets, and addressed each one, individually, turning it over, feeling its weight. And then I accepted that there was not a damned thing I could do to change what was. I could only do better. Be better.
Within me, there were things rattling around, trying to find their way out.
I bought a notebook and a pencil and I started writing again, for the first time since I was 18. I let the bittersweet, pain-soaked memories pour onto the paper. More crying here. I wrote through the tears. Eventually, hollow and raw, I collapsed onto my bed and slept for 20 hours.
I felt different when I woke up.
The damage was still there. But it had turned into a pink scar. I could draw breath. My thoughts had a lighter consistency.
Getting creative will save you from your own mind. You just have to do it. It doesn’t have to be beautiful. It need not be elaborate, nor an expensive endeavour. Just start. Draw. Write. Paint. Dance. Sing. However it manifests, let it out. Do it for yourself. Do this, and you’ll float.