I gave up on my passion driven work twice.
The first time, I was taking a drive by the river and I felt an idea slip into my mind. It wasn’t words so much as a visual. I saw myself throwing all of it away into the river. I tossed away my labels, my p-l-a-n-s, my accomplishments. I was none of them. Could it be so easy? It was. I felt free.
I went home and packed up all of my fabrics and anything related to sewing or designing. I put all of it in boxes and into a back closet. I moved the studio all around and left only art supplies.
I had taken the pressure off. I had decided to end my suffering. I thought back over the last while and felt how hard I was pushing. I was squeezing the life out of myself, in the name of passion.
I thought that a lifetime of trauma was the reason I had so much trouble with my creative process. I thought I could heal this like I had healed so much of myself.
Having been so decided on recovering the creative parts of myself, I was going about it like a warrior. Trampling all over my own feelings. Those times I was saying to myself, “I’ve had enough. I’m tired now. I don’t like it. This isn’t the way.”
I decided listening was more important now. I was going to listen to myself. I set down my sword and I took time to just be with myself, with no expectations.
Months passed and I had pulled out boxes of fabric. I started new projects and was furiously writing in my notebooks. Outlines, p-l-a-n-s, sketches. Opportunities fluttered my way, as though the universe knew I had awoken.
I was sewing again and thinking of endless new ideas for what I wanted to create. One day, I was standing at my work table stitching together two pieces of leather. Suddenly, I heard a screeching sound…a s-q-u-e-a-l-i-n-g.
“What was that?”
It grew louder. Like a train coming to an unplanned stop. It rang into my ears until the needle fell from my hand and I closed my eyes as tight as I could. I opened them and looked down at my work table. I looked around the room and it looked back at me.
I could feel it sweating. The air was moist with something sickly and familiar. Everywhere I looked, self-loathing looked back at me. But it wasn’t loathing, it was sadness. It was my failure to have an identity, to believe in myself. I didn’t know who I was here. I didn’t know what these things I was making were supposed to say. When I looked at them, they looked weak and warped. They felt incomplete and alone.
I didn’t pack anything this time. I left everything exactly where it was. Every day I would walk through and pause to look around, to feel around the lines and shapes of what was in that room.
I looked to see if I was there somewhere. Maybe in a spool of thread or somewhere in that bin of leather. But I didn’t see myself.
A few days passed when I woke up and felt my body tense up. My muscles wouldn’t move. “What are you doing? I have to get ready for work.” My body, now full of sand, wobbled uneasily through my house and out the door to my car.
Instead of driving to work, I headed to the river. I drove north as far as I could, parked, and ran to the river. I stared into the water,
“Hey River, what the hell is wrong with me?”
It didn’t answer, but I felt something. I felt something melting and seeping through my skin. It slipped down my body, onto the river bank, and into the water. And then I saw them. There, getting carried away with the current: my labels, my p-l-a-n-s, my accomplishments.
I realized I could continue on this path, trying to express creatively through these crafts. It would continue to break me, to shatter me into little pieces and then put me back together. It was hard, up hill, and disorienting. But there were parts of it I loved. I had so many ideas, I would see them in my head and then bring them to life. I loved sewing, I loved fabric. But it wasn’t enough. None of it was enough.
I had to give up again, to follow a new path. It made no sense, why was it so hard to follow my passion? Why was it so painful?
:: Origin of Passion
1125–75; Middle English (< Old French) < Medieval Latin passiōn- (stem of passiō) Christ’s sufferings on the cross, any of the Biblical accounts of these (> late Old English passiōn), special use of Late Latin passiō suffering, submission, derivative of Latin passus, past participle of patī to suffer, submit;