Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Resting is Not Real: Postscript

This is my postscript for yesterday's posting: "Resting Isn't Real". That post went a bit long, so I'm running this separately.

Since a while before Covid I've been immersed in an ambitious slew of house renovation projects. I'm bad at every aspect; I don't know what a crown molding is, I don't know about glossy or matte paint. I'm easily deceived and misdirected by contractors and workers. I don't know how to choose a color or a drawer pull or a fixture. I'm ill-equipped to decide what needs to be done and what can be left alone. I can't distinguish between charming/antique and decrepitude. And in the best-case scenario, with diligent, honest, competent workers eager to serve, I still have to tell them what to do. As if I had a clue!

I also took these years to work through several dozen boxes that have accumulated (and been dragged from home to home) since college. I was profoundly phobic about broaching them. My great paralysis. If anyone had honored me for my work as a musician, writer, teacher, community manager or entrepreneur (thank goodness no one has!), I'd have scoffed. None of it meant a thing. Me, I'm that shmuck with the boxes.

I was also gathering paperwork and permits and letters and seals and notarized copies and filled-forms and bank accounts and identity numbers and leases and baggage certificates and transfer services, hiring foreign lawyers, accountants, consultants, and relocation specialists to apply for residency in Portugal. A poor slob who freezes up at the Post Office or DMV spent two solid years immersed in unfathomable Portuguese bureaucracy, jumping through hoops for imperious gov types. Fun!

I also hired a realtor to sell the house, and embarked on radical (but thoughtful) de-cluttering.
Why "thoughtful"? Any idiot can rent a dumpster and a backhoe and be de-cluttered by tomorrow. But that sort of butchery would have haunted me forever.
It's not that I was living a pack-rattish silence-of-the-lambs existence. It's just I've been a lot of people, had many careers, and each left a wake of artifacts. I may not be presently working as a big band arranger, but I'm not ready to throw away my big stack of arrangements. I may not presently be a restaurant critic, but I'm not ready to throw away my Chinese menu decoder books. Etc etc. So it hasn't been easy. The eBay sales operation alone (I grossed over $7000) was like a full time job for a couple years.

But this week, my visa application was submitted, my house is 100% decluttered, there are no remaining boxes and no remaining house issues (everything works great and everything looks great, though I barely register it). And I've had two offers on the house (fingers crossed) even though the market crashed right after I listed (I was saved by having worked so long and so hard to make the place irresistibly charming and bright and happy).

A friend asked if I feel happy/proud/excited. I replied that, no, I'm mostly just super tired. I've been so geared up for so long, doing stuff I hate and am/was terrible at, that I didn't realize how hard I'd been pushing myself. I have tons of resilience and determination, which makes me prone to drastically overloading my high bandwidth. This is dangerous. My Achilles heel. I can get into real trouble.
I've been trying for years to write an article linking this phenomenon to the tale (and one of my favorite films) of The Red Shoes, wherein a ballerina straps on magic shoes and dances herself to death. Most people consider it a clear parable about obsession, but it's something more than that; something much deeper and scarier...and tectonic for genuinely creative people. But I can't seem to explain it, and my irrepressible drive to do so might eventually be the death of me.
So my impulse was to "rest". I leaned back into my couch for a few days and watched movies. But, having been punked via previous futile efforts to "rest", I knew what to watch for. And, sure enough, I only felt worse and worse. Pretending to be static is not helpful. Resting isn't real. My perpetually beating heart leads the way, showing me that I’m here to act. So this time I decided not to rest-pose. I'll do stuff!

I began to resume decluttering, vacuuming, eBaying, house marketing, Portugal researching, etc. Overdoing it and aiming for infinity. Mindlessly reentering the same pressure cooker via sheer momentum. But this time I resisted. I reframed. 

I'm finding fresh gruelers. For instance, that last posting took real effort. This one, too. One of the unwritten Slog rules is "no self-revelation without greater purpose.” I'm deathly afraid I'll get caught using this as "Dear Diary", venting gratuitous emotional hooey. I hate that sort of thing, and I resolved as a child never to do things I hate when other people do them. So every word needs to be generously insightful and useful, and hopefully entertaining. And it's hard to keep that pedal firmly planted at strong emotional junctures, especially while feeling tired! But the effort feels far more salubrious than rest-posing!

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