For a long time Samuel Beckett’s 7 words: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on” has captured the last few years for me. Re-visiting the old habits of my past life has got me re-thinking everything again.
I’m writing on the MegaBus, my transport method of choice for writing. Long delays, bumpy roads, all on a few dollars – seems to represent my life well. And what else is there to do on a MegaBus other than to over think about all that is and all that was and could have been?
I’ve spent the most incredible few days in NYC catching up with friends and being half wanderer and half tourist. Half ticking ‘living-list’ items off, half just literally watching the sun move across the sky – relaxing after an incredibly hard year. But all of this has given me time to reconsider my position.
I’m now well stuck in between two spaces – in between sick and fully healthy, in between degrees, in between art & healthcare, in between transit from one place to another. And when I fell sick, I couldn’t get out of bed, I coughed up blood, I was in severe pain, constant heavy nosebleeds, drenching night sweats, loss of sight, black-outs. It was pretty rough.
And naturally because of this health issue, everything changed. Everything. My art career changed, my future plans had to be re-adjusted, I wasn’t sure if I was the person I wanted to be if everything ended right there. And for the past few years I’ve spent the years re-negoitating with my body, with my own identity, with my left-over abilities from being damaged on where to go and how to use this experience.
The thing is, I’ve used what’s happened to me as fuel for both incredibly good changes in my life, but also i’ve used it as an excuse as to why I haven’t done other things. I mean, I literally couldn’t get up – so I don’t think I should be too hard on myself. But the thing is, whilst I’m still not 100% and I live with a fear in the back of my mind that it all could easily come back as easily as it appeared — I no longer can hide behind this excuse of having not done a certain amount of things (art & societally wise). And this doubting voice has started to get louder the closer i’ve got to the end of my healthcare course.
A bit like when an athlete gets injured, they become less valuable. They might even have to retire early – condemned to areas in which their talents do not lie.
What happens if whilst i’ve taken a bit of hiatus – what it really shows is that I’m actually not a very good artist? I feel so behind my peers in so many different ways now. I’m getting old. What happens if I’ve de-skilled myself? So many what-ifs, so many worries? And what does all of this mean?
I think I’m starting to feel the importance of my next body of artwork and the vulnerability of that. That and the vulnerability of being stuck in between two spaces and places and trying to coherently string this broken fragmented life and experiences together.
It’s been a good few years since I’ve had the luxury to doubt my work. After all, doubting the future is a luxury only lucky people get to do. And it feels like progress to some degree getting to this place.
On the bus, I spoke to Katie about these worries. She seemed unfathomed by it and compared it to all development. Bringing direct inspiration from Britney Spears career – how she has her ups and downs. one album is shit, the other is great. Using all the experiences together to move things forward.
She concluded that, “you’re in the present moment, so you live in it. you do what you need to do in that moment.”
I guess I’ll never know if I had never fell poorly, whether or not I’d be a better, more established artist (or a more established practice/body of work). I can only take off my rose-tinted glasses of the past and Push against these two spaces between me. But I do feel in my bones – that i’ve made some important things for others over the past 2 years, even if the art world canon will never recogonize it.
However, i’m hoping to spend the next 2 + months finding my artist voice again. Re-building the existing foundation to strengthen my critical art world voice. I’m not sure at all what will come next – but I know what my works NOT going to be – and I know, for sure, that I’m going to use all of my time, and use it all wisely.
I can’t go on. I’ll go on.