Winston Churchill famously said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.”
It’s times like these that I realize how true that is, and how much we need to be reminded. Because as much as we know, as much as we talk about how bad things are, how much we wish they were different, there is, at the same time, this running temptation to just give up.
That’s an aspect of depression and anxiety. They push us towards the behaviors that will keep them around, and they make it harder to do the things that will eventually get us out of the woods.
It’s a cliché among creatives that we never feel like we are in exactly the right place or time or frame of mind to create how we really want to. We either don’t have the time or there are too many distractions or the situation is just not ripe for it. If only we had this or that, if life were different, if we were in a better place, then we could get into our art properly.
Of course, there are times when things are perfect, or near enough, when the words flow, when we’re in that groove and it’s just easy. But, more often than not, there’s something that will make it difficult to do what we want to do. The lesson then is that we have to create anyway, because things will never be perfect. If we wait for things to be “just right”, we’ll wait forever.
But it becomes all the more important in times like this because creativity is not simply a nice thing to do, it’s essential. It’s a mandate for living. It’s a survival trait. And I know it is for many reasons but none more than the fact that it’s something that my anxiety and depression tell me I can’t do.
Because creativity is how you get yourself out of the woods.
It’s been so hard lately to write or to even think about the things I want to write about. A thousand worries are choking me out, money and time and work. Added on to that the fact that the work I’m actually doing feels more important because it pays. So why bother giving thought and energy to something that doesn’t?
And there’s the trap.
There are things I’m doing now that I know could, even will, turn into great opportunities down the road. There are things I’m paying time and effort, and money, into now that will turn into things that can bring me money later. But if I don’t start them now, they won’t turn into anything. It’s like any other investment. There’s a point where you have to pay into them or they’ll never pay out.
But the paying is the hard part right now, for all the reasons I’ve listed and more. For the reason that it’s just hard to keep giving of myself when I already feel stretched thin. But I have to.
Because this is how I get out.
I could stop. I could give up. Hit the eject button on this whole endeavor. And everything else would stop with me. That’s what the darkness wants. For you to decide it’s too much effort to work yourself out and just stay here forever.
And so, I do the things that aren’t paying me anything now. I come to the open page and put words to my thoughts. In the hope, with faith, that it and everything else will turn into something. Because it’s like the man said:
When you’re going through hell…