Acute Dearth of Creativity (abbv. ACD)
~a syndrome of malaise, restlessness, insomnia, feelings of entrapment, frequent bouts of irritation at the ordinariness and monotony of one day after the next and then the next and few more, stemming probably from an acute lack of creative outflow either due to lack of time and effort or due to a sudden indecisiveness of wanting to do something-anything-but not knowing what it is.
I have a bad bout of ACD. Stuck in a rut of residency, exams, thesis submission, quizzes, library nights, transition to married life (which has somewhat disrupted the balanced and essential solitude I had cultivated over the years), and dealing with the fact that I am 30 (welcoming PAP smears, mammographies, constant looming apprehension that a precocious teenager would call me Aunty, and a compulsion to project a grown-up assurance that I don’t always feel); some days I wake up gasping for a change, an escape. Some days I don’t wake up at all. Sleep cocoons me from all.
I love academia. I love learning, and implementing it. I treasure the accolades, the joys of a concept unfolding in the brain and the fit of the missing puzzle piece. But the stress involved is overwhelming at times, trying to keep up with the competition, meeting deadlines, functioning on a state of permanent sleep deprivation. I want an alternate world to escape into too; a world cultivating and honing passion and creativity. The passivity of reading books no longer suffice.
Marriage; a life shared with the one who loves, understands and most importantly tolerates me; has ushered in joys and a sense of calm I never knew existed. But a residual fear of losing the ‘me’ in ‘us’ still lingers.
I no longer write, blog, or read as often as I would like to. Acute dearth of Creativity. No time, I console myself. Why can’t I squeeze in time for a few words, a quick sketch, any amateur creation? At the end of a long day, as we lay in the dark, hands clasped and sleep overpowering, too tired to exchange anything beyond monosyllabic conversations, he would hum few lines from a new Tamil song he had heard, and translate painstakingly the old world poetry of the lyrics. I weep into the pillow, everything overwhelms me; the beauty of the words, his voice, the fact that he still accommodates his joys and interests into the busiest of schedules, my growing distance from the things I once loved and the ones I hoped to learn. Someday. Which day?
Books have been a pushy lover throughout though; squeezing their way into my day, claiming my attention, my affection. The pace has slackened, but I still read three to four books a month, even if that meant adding to the sleep deprivation.
Sundays, I disconnect from the world, from family and friends. I wake up early, complete the weeks chores (a surge of hitherto unknown domesticity, another 30s thing?), remain in my hostel room alone, banning out all human contact including my husband. I read in bed. Hours go by. I doze off. I cook the food of my childhood-rice, dal, mashed potatoes, fried brinjals in gramflour batter and bamboo shoot pickle from home. I scribble in an old notebook. Anything. Everything. I read the newsletters of my favorite blogs; Brainpickings and Lenny. I go back and again to the nature passages in The Fly Trap, The Small Wild Goose Pagoda, The Corfu trilogy etc and toy with the idea of a kitchen garden. I start with a potted indoor plant but it’s a small consolation to my eager, amateur green thumb. I spend long moments looking at the tree outside my window (an inner shame at my lack of botanical knowledge and inability to identify it); its tiny greenish-yellow leaves fluttering in the breeze and the pale blue sky as the backdrop. I roam around naked in my room at times, getting used to the sags and marks and bulges, acceptance swooping in gently. I watch movies from lands I might never visit, languages I might never comprehend. An hour can go by listening to a new song in a loop. Slowness. Happiness. Solitude. Life renews. I breathe.
Sundays have become vital to my existence, sustaining the inseparable and (often suffocated throughout the week) loner in me. It keeps ACD at bay too; even if transiently. I create. Something. Anything. The earlier apprehensions and limitations of trying out only those creative outlets that I feel confident about is slowly dying out. I want to try gardening, carpentry, charcoal sketches, yoga, a new language, everything. He laughs when he sees me browsing power tools and pencil colours simultaneously; but doesn’t mock my new found enthusiasm; but quietly asks me to keep my expectations of a creative life a tad realistic. Not to forget the old in the pursuit of the new.
So, here I am, back at my old blog. Typing in the familiar dashboard. Still seeking a creative outlet; but no longer in a hurry. My sketchpad and writing pad and glue gun and Irwin Sealy books would take three more days to arrive!