It’s nine-thirty in the morning. The kitchen smells like molasses and vanilla. I am chopping apples as fast as I can without running the risk of cutting myself. This, I think, is fun.
Fun. What a concept. I’ve been grasping at it recently, like a drunk person feeling for the rail as they stumble up their stairs in the dark. Fun comes in brief moments of pleasure caught unawares amidst a storm of serious intentions and fierce expectations. It is the instants when I find myself…just admiring the flowers…just sitting on the couch and snuggling …just painting…just baking a cake. But as soon as I notice it, it’s gone, lost amidst a bulletin of harsh inquiries about, “What am I doing? Is this productive? How can I turn this into a productive activity?”
I’m giving myself tachycardia (when your heart starts beating too fast) just thinking about it. Recently I’ve felt a bit like a fat hamster, panting on a wheel, wondering when I’m going to reach my destination, and doing my damnedest to get there now. As hamsters far and wide can attest, it doesn’t work very well. I’m tired and stressed out and grumpy. It sucks for me and it sucks for the poor souls who have to encounter me (i.e. my parents, Ethan, my friends, unfortunate baristas and Trader Joe’s checkout people).
I know you can’t just sign off of putting pressure on yourself. I still want to be successful as an artist. I still want to create beautiful things that are meaningful to other people. I still want to have an income that allows my parents not to worry about me, though I know they’ll do that anyway. But I have noticed that a lot of what I stress about is whether or not I am successfully becoming something. When I was in college, I put all my effort into becoming an agriculturalist. But I ended up not wanting to be an environmental scientist, despite my love of the outdoors. Then I tried becoming a pastry chef, and I actually succeeded and had a lot of fun, but I missed painting. So I crossed pastry chef off my list and set to work becoming a professional artist. I’m also not doing terribly on that front, but like I said…fat hamster. And it’s not like I’ve given up inquiring about nature or making desserts, despite having made some serious decision that I’m not the “something” associated with those activities.
When did I decide that I had to be one thing? I suppose it’s an attempt to get comfortable; I’ve been trying to settle on a career path so I can say, “I’m a this,” and have done with it. But identity is not like that. No matter how hard I try to figure myself out and call it a day, a self, a life well-lived before it’s done or even barely begun really, I’ll never get out of the task of working out how I feel and what I need, from moment-to-moment. Being human– it’s like this.
In every second there is all of this shifting around: what I love and what makes me happy; what I’m good at and what makes an income; what I find fascinating and what I want no part of, what I can contribute and what I’m willing to strive to be better at. Somewhere in there is a life lived, between now and when the gravestone hits the ground.
I’d like to stop trying to make myself “a something.” Perhaps instead I should make some one else a something. Like an apple wacky cupcake.
Recipe after the jump… Continue reading