Do Dramatic Turtles Have Navels Upon Which to Gaze?

Turtle PowerI was reading my Feedly news just now while eating my lunch, and after eight or nine articles about politics, culture wars, economics, and tribal identity bullshit,  it got into my head – my very turtle-brained agnostic formerly-idealist-turned-cynical-curmudgeon head – that one way to get by in a world that makes no sense is to stop trying to make sense of it and put all one’s focus into doing the two or three things that one can do reliably well, ignoring the rest and just trudging onward with blinders. Of course there’s still a part of my brain that knows this is not a good solution, but in all honestly, right now the dominant part of my brain – see above – thinks this is a pretty appealing notion.

Forget thoughts of changing the world, forget about building community, forget about Big Ideas, because after all these years of toying with such things it’s just pretty damn clear that I’m too much of a coward to actually commit to anything that matters. I am, when it comes down to it, an exceptionally good quitter. In fact Quitting is probably the one thing I’ve never quit at. Jobs, relationships, communities, hobbies, therapies … I’ve quit them all.

But being an exceptional quitter doesn’t really work as a focal point for “do what you do best and ignore the rest” philosophy, does it? It’s a talent that can be useful for getting out of stuff’s way, but it doesn’t work as a thing to pursue. So to become this guy I’m envisioning, I’ve got to find a thing or two that I do really well AND will not quit.

A couple months ago I decided to pretty much drop everything and focus all my energy on being a good father to my boys and a good companion to Leah. That’s something I’ve told myself I will not quit, and I remain determined to keep at it, regardless. So far, that has been a workable way to get through the day, but the fact is, Leah keeps reminding me that it’s not enough, and I know she’s right. I need to choose one of my talents and nurture my passion for it enough to stick with it and develop it.

I play around with painting, jewelry making, and general creativity a lot. This Website is supposed to be the repository where all that gets shared, and will hopefully continue to be. But I go in fits and spurts with that stuff. I busted out about ten creative projects last week and have about three more cooking on my work table right now, but that came after almost two months of doing practically nothing creative – and the spectre of losing my drive to make things ALWAYS looms close. It bit me yesterday, and can return to suck the energy out of me at any time. My point being, none of these general creative projects will, in and of themselves, ever work as my “thing”. The fact that they are easy to pick up and play with when I’m in the mood also makes them very easy to avoid and ignore when I’m not in the mood. There are no real stakes involved. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, I am a decent enough maker of various things, but I don’t think any of them rises to the level of “I’m really good at this.”

So what am I really good at? What have I practiced in my life that I feel confidently, unabashedly good at, even when I’m at my worst and the demons are kicking my ass and it makes no difference whether I get any praise or notice from others because I KNOW I’m really good at it?

Only one thing comes to mind – Theatre. Stage acting. Trodding the boards and chewing on dialogue. That’s what college was training me for, that’s what I did with passionate ferocity and confidence in the company of some very talented people in a very good theatre company for years. That’s what I believe I do better than anything else I’ve done.

And I haven’t done it in over sixteen years.

“So Mick,” you say, “Stop whining and hem-hawwing and go do it!”

Well, here’s the thing, and it’s the thing I can’t wrap my head around, the thing I can’t reconcile – I really don’t care to start doing theatre again. I have no desire, drive, or passion to start acting again. I DO want to feel those feelings, experience that measure of ability for a craft, and lose myself in the practice of my talent. I want the thing that doing theatre gave me. But I don’t want to do it via theatre. I don’t know why. What do I fear? I honestly don’t know. But I’m not gonna go look for someplace to audition, I can say that much.

Which brings me back again to not knowing what to do. And all the while I realize that there are elixirs aplenty for what ails me, most of them within reasonable reach, but I stubbornly refuse to grab them. And so yes, I deserve everything I’m going through, because the only person making me wallow in this is me.

And thus my first blog post in many months is yet another navel-gaze. Now, likely, I’ll go back into my widdle turtle shell and mope.



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One Comment

  1. Mick,

    I totally know where you are coming from. I reached a similar revelation recently, and had a similar reaction of going into my shell. So you aren’t alone in that.

    To battle it, I’ve found people who are good for me, and organized my projects to focus on the things that are important to me and my family. It seems to be working, but it’s a work in progress.

    Good luck, and if you ever want someone to bounce things off of just let me know.

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