Watching films about great writers and artists always inspires me. Tonight’s offering was Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. Available on Netflix, this documentary of the famous writer’s life is full of interesting details but dances quickly from one situation to the next without giving a lot of depth.
Joan Didion is someone I’m embarrassed to admit I was not more familiar with before now. She bore witness to some of the most interesting events of recent history. In the film she is a wizened crone reflecting on a full life.
I feel the pull of a kindred spirit toward iconoclastic voices but their lives are a world away. I compare myself to those around me and feel lazy, the idea of slaving away at some meaningless set of tasks to earn tokens so my family can have the basics of life makes me nauseous.
I consider myself a hard worker, but I guess I’m too smart for my own good because I need a reason. I need to learn something and I need something to set my mind to. Otherwise I get bored quickly. My brain takes that extra energy and uses it to try to choke itself.
Life at home is hectic and sometimes very stressful. But if I just have to jot something down, I can. Bathroom breaks are not timed and the uniform is lax. Hubby has casually mentioned that his mother could step in with the kids. This is easier for him than for me. She’s not my Beloved Mother, and I’m kinda stuck on the idea of raising my own kids.
And why do some people get to spend their lives writing? Seems I’m going to anyway, why do I seem doomed to a life distracted and thinly spread?
Joan told a little story about how her mother gave her a magazine article about a writing contest, saying Joan could win it someday. And win it she did, kicking off an influential career.
Ah, so she had support. That’s probably part of it. It’s taken me this long just to really figure out what I want to do.
I will never stop writing. I have moments where I rage at all the men who have used the labor of their families to avoid responsibility and focus on their careers. At the financial system which, by so many estimates, is rigged against us. Recently I read that people my age are more likely to live with a parent than a spouse. The comment section was filled with people doing both just to keep everyone afloat.Sometimes it makes hearing stories about the greats of the last century ring a little hollow.
How many insights are we missing out on? How many great novels and paintings or technological advancements aren’t happening because my generation’s innovators are working three jobs to pay for student debt and health insurance? And if you had the gall to reproduce in your 20s, it’s exponentially more complicated.
So, dear reader, I have to ask myself if I think I can take myself out of my home and away from my children all day, 5 days a week. Is it just romantic nonsense to worry I would go a little crazy? My husband works so hard, and I want to do everything I can to help. Back rubs and chicken dinners only go so far.
Is it narcissistic to say that I fear for my budding creative spirit? Is it immature to assert that I have something to say, I am more than just a worker? That this knowledge burns hotter within me with each passing year and churning out these posts is merely a method of keeping my brain from boiling over?
Because it feels that way. Maybe it’s my Midwestern Republican upbringing but any protest against wage slavery feels like making excuses. I’m probably going to have to say goodbye to my little one more and more often very soon. Miss dinners and conversations. And return to the feeling that I’m missing a beat of every bar that plays as life marches unmercifully forward.
I’ll be 35 next week. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the time pressure but it’s nice in that it allows me to cut through a lot of the internal bullshit that held me back when I was younger. And then I look and see that the world outside is covered in it. I want so badly to do my small part to help clean it up, if I don’t drown in it first.
All the cinematic inspiration in the world can’t pay the light bill.