22nd February, 2014
I had to wonder why I was here.
Here, at the table, having the same conversation, with the same friend about the same thing. The same conversation that we have been having for nearly four years.
Yep – you have that right. Four years!
Insane right? Well maybe.
What do they say the definition of insanity is? Doing exactly the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome? Well here I was, asking my friend to see what I see every day. She is an extremely talented artist. Her work is quirky, dark and seriously awesome. So many people love her work. But she doesn’t see it. And here I was telling her the same thing…doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome.
I had to wonder why she was in my life. I believe that people can come into your life, not only because they need you, but because you need them. You each have lessons to learn from each other. Ever had that weird scenario where it seems everyone you come across has the same stuff going on? Often it’s because you are the one who needs to change. Not them. The lesson isn’t about them, it’s about you. Surrounded by emotional vampires? Then perhaps the lesson is about you valuing yourself and your time and learning to say no.
So perhaps this situation wasn’t about what my friend wasn’t seeing. Maybe this was about what I wasn’t seeing?
Whenever I need to clear my head and think I either go for a walk to the beach, or I put on some loud music and dance. In this instance I headed down to the beach. There is a little old park bench I like to sit on, that has a great view of the city across Port Phillip Bay. Sitting there in the sun, listening to the waves lap up against the moored yachts, I pondered the facts.
My friend is a talented visual artist who is afraid of following her dreams. So she clings to the devil she knows. It’s something I totally understand, having been a single mother for a while an needed to pay the bills and feed my children. But denying her passion visibly eats away at her and almost every week she looks ragged or falls sick. Incredibly sick. It’s as if you can see her soul crying out to be released. The pain of her choice is etched into her skin, the fear of taking a risk on her ability as an artist, sits like a dark phantom behind her eyes. Whenever she has some time off, or a weekend where she has spent the time drawing and painting, it’s as if she transforms; her smile dazzles, her energy lifts and you literally see her breathe again.
As her friend, I don’t know what to do. I no longer know what to say to her and I am at a loss as to how to help her.
So what am I missing here?
Sitting on that bench, it didn’t take long to realise that I am a reflection of my friend. Perhaps not in all ways, but in some.
The very things that I have been trying to tell her, are perhaps the very things that I needed to hear myself.
It is no coincidence that I am surrounded by artists, film makers, writers, dancers and actors. Over the years I have left behind many of my artistic passions and pursuits for a steady income, and a professional career. Have I died a little? Maybe. Have I been afraid to follow my artistic dreams. Of course. And it has made me sick at times; cemented the fear and the pain in my heart. It’s not that I don’t love my day job. I do. But I have forgotten what it is like to create another world with words and to take people on a journey across my universe.
Until I started the DBM project, I hadn’t written a story or a poem for over 25 years. That’s a very long time for a writer to stay silent. It’s a lot of stories to keep buried beneath my skin. It is, quite simply, the very definition of insanity.
That day sitting on the park bench looking at the view of the city and the bay feeding into the sea beyond, I made a promise to myself. That I would listen to my gut and be the writer I have always been.
That was Christmas Eve 2013. A week later, on New Years Eve I started to write again. The Dead Before Midnight Project was born.
I’m still not sure how to help my friend, but I think I am a much better friend to her as the writer I always meant to be.