I have mentioned before on this blog that I’m a writer. Sure, an amateur certainly. I decided the other day that perhaps it would be useful to write a memoir of some kind, documenting the conditions of my childhood. In a way, I suppose I would like to see my own progression to this state on paper. If I ever complete it, I suppose it would help someone understand the nature of mental illness and how it can be one big event or many tiny ones that really trigger depression, anxiety, borderline personality, PTSD, etc.
The thing is that I’ve been remembering things that I hadn’t thought of in a long while. Like how much I loved the Dukes of Hazard when I was a kid. I would call my dad Boss Hog and make him buy a cigar to smoke. The thing is, I have always had this tendency to see the worst in everything. It’s not new, and it would be easy to place the blame on my ex wife.
Truth be told, I have always had this sense of not belonging. Whatever my condition is, I have always had it. To be sure, it hasn’t ever been so intense and difficult to deal with. But it’s been, to borrow a phrase, a death of a thousand cuts. Sure, there were some really bad incidents that went down. By and large though, I think it was isolation that really irritated this condition I bear.
Why are so many authors or artists also burdened with this malaise? Does the disease of the mind inspire the art, in an artist’s effort to express themselves, or are the traits of an artist a combination that is vulnerable to mental illness?
All I know is that for me, it seems to be a combination of these reasons. I suffer from insufferably high standards. This is why I am so pessimistic. Eastern thought cautions us against the formation of expectations, and boy do I ever have a knack for letting myself down. My standards are so high that I defeat myself. I realized this while I was playing fetch with my dog the other evening. I expect everything to be awesome and perfect the first time. Always have. And I am crushed by the letdown. Either because others didn’t perform to what I expected or because I failed in some way. Not that my dog wasn’t fetching, but only because my damn brain never stops thinking.
But both of these conditions arise from my expectations of perfection. It doesn’t really reflect on my capability nor that of those around me. Perfection is impossible. I cannot remember who the author was, but it was a book about recording music. He said that the pursuit of perfection is self-defeating, because the moment we get close to perfection, we realize how it could still be better. Perfection is an endless climb.
Idealism has been somewhat of a plague to me. For this reason, I have two books, several dozen short stories complete with another book in the works along side of a memoir. I know I will probably never submit them for editing with intent to publish because of my own expectations. They won’t ever meet my own standards, so why would I expect them to meet the standards of others? I need to kick that. I’m actually kind of a good writer and nothing ventured, nothing gained after all. Perhaps, if tamed, my sense of idealism can be an ally.
I think all creative people think like you do because I know I do. I am working on not being so hard on myself this year so that I can maybe write a book about my life.