This post is about the difference between potential and actuality. Or, why I have a level of difficulty in actually using the materials I have, as versus recording or ordering or writing about them. This feels like something very deeply rooted in my psyche, though I’m not sure where it comes from, or why it’s there.
Last night — technically, two nights ago, now — I spent nearly the full evening, making color schemes. Starting with the size 11/0 (small, but not microscopically so) beads, I basically pulled out everything I had (short of most of the Czech seed beads, the shaped beads, and some of the beads I’ve just decided to put to the side) and began to associate them with each other, in hopes of being inspired by the colors into making something (which is helping. At least, now, I have someplace to start).
I’m writing here right now instead of working on these potential pieces, for what reason, exactly? I had a lot to think about last night, and if I could have stayed up past 2 AM to record stuff and still have been a mentally stable person today, I would have done it. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work for me.
Also last night, M was on my case about being a, “collector, not a maker.” Sidestepping the obvious straw man that comes with someone else defining for me who I am, I divulged the reasoning for my being hesitant to use my materials…which I don’t think would be so well-fleshed-out, if I were just, “a collector.”
This came to me at least a decade ago, possibly more; when I was well into my artwork, and/or writing (it depends on the timeline), and dealing with the blank page. Art requires decision-making, although the making of those decisions may feel automatic. It requires taking something full of potential and whittling down that potential into something that is real (or real-enough). In the process…many alternatives are discarded, foregone, or saved for a later date.
With beads, more than one possibility in fact does exist, where it comes to color combinations — even though in the moment, one may match things up one-to-one. There does, happily, exist the possibility of making more than one variant of each color scheme, and have more than one try at finished pieces — and even though color schemes do change over the years, the colors produced are often close enough to be decently similar.
In any case, it becomes clear that this present moment, with this work, and these thoughts, in this arrangement, will never come again. (I wouldn’t be surprised if anxiety over the nature of the passage of time actually is shared among my family [I have a relative who would obsessively take photos even when people didn’t want them to]…but creation [in this lower form] may not be possible without time as a factor.)
Even if I were to re-draw an image in order to follow a foregone different possible path in its development, the new image would not exactly be the same as the old. I can’t do that. There is no possibility of a handmade photocopy, and actual photocopies are generally on poorer-quality paper, with ink that might not take watercolor. Even a tracing in carbon paper is not exactly the same. In my reality, there has been no going back. I can’t go back in time and recover an image from before I colored it, to try different options; this means many images remain uncolored. I mentioned this to M, who has said that repainting is possible and done all the time. I was never taught to do it.
On a broader level…I’m re-reading this now and I see a parallel here between my gender presentation and the difficulty I have in working creatively. I have been considering changing my presentation to male, ever since I found out it was possible (and how efficiently it could become possible, for me). This is to the point that I have difficulty attending groups based around gender and transgender realities…I get triggered very easily on this level, and to know that gender transition is possible and permissible often triggers feelings of wanting to do it.
Which are then immediately countered by the idea of becoming a target for hate, again.
However: I don’t have an issue with my body, so the, “wrong body narrative,” used for decades in cases of gender dysphoria, does not apply. I have issues with the person I believe other people perceive me to be, because of my body; because I think they think that physical attributes in some way hard-code to personality and identity. And I have severe confirmation bias on this.
As though because I have a chest, because I can birth a child, that means I should be an innately nurturing and caring person…which I am not. Like because straight men may be attracted to me, that must also mean that I have the capability of being attracted to them. I can’t even use the excuse that I’m, “lesbian.” I’m not a woman to begin with, so how can I be a woman who loves women? Further, why would I be interested in someone who was interested in me as a woman, when I’m not a woman?
As much as I don’t want to be perceived as, “a girl,” being expected to be a man is also terrifying, because I know I’m not one (and I don’t know how to learn to be one, or even if I should). At the very least, I don’t live up to the ideal of a trans* man that I’ve seen other trans* men aspire to. To an extent, I know who I am. How to interact with the world and not be ashamed of my own identity, and not be full of rage at constant misgendering, is the issue. Although, if I looked male and people treated me the way they treat me, it would be very obvious (and likely then understandable) where the rage would be coming from.
The problem at hand here, is not totally me. It’s not my biology that is the issue. The problem I have is at its core, cultural. It’s with other people, and my adjustment to not being seen by others as the person I know myself to be. On top of that…I can’t control what other people think or do, which is (frankly) frustrating. The only thing I think I can or should do in this situation is forget entirely about any hope of being seen by others as myself, and try and go about living in my own way — regardless of how anyone else (including my family) feels about that. Of course, though — that removes a lot of support structures.
Changing the form or organization of something (often many things) and using those things in order to assist in the creation of something new, may be the essence of the creative process, for me — right now, with the beadwork. In other cases, such as with writing, technology softens the blow of this. It’s possible that I’m drawn to writing because of the malleability of the form. Once it’s written, it’s recorded and can be rewritten with no harm to the original. I don’t have to overwrite my past recordings in order to move forward with new trial versions. It doesn’t matter whether my writing looks exactly the same; I know what I meant, and the words have standard spelling.
I may be wrong — after all, I’ve dealt with depression since I was 14 (puberty…what does that say), and depression can really mess up a person’s thinking — but for a long time I’ve felt that destruction is the shadow side of creation. In order to create something physically, something else — like the previous form of one’s materials — must end. I’ve dealt with this in buying beads, then being on the cusp of using them, and not wanting to cut apart the strand they were sold on. Because, my mind states, they’re perfectly beautiful, there. Not only that, but to cut apart the strand may be to destroy what in my mind is the beauty of the potential of those beads.
Right then, they’re an idea. They consist of possibilities. To cut them apart is to begin to narrow down those possibilities; to use them is to continue to narrow down those possibilities, until something at the end is realized. At some point, one has to be secure enough in the worth of their engaging in the activity, to believe that they can do justice to the potential that existed at the beginning.
I believe that at some point, I lost faith in myself; that what came out of me could be good or socially responsible; that I could be a good person. This likely occurred during or just after having graduated with my BA in Creative Writing, around my 23rd year. I had attempted to analyze my own writing as I analyzed the writing of others…there is a gigantic issue here in my knowing too much about myself. Also, in the self-destructive mode I was in at the time, I used my writing and interpretations to emotionally denigrate and self-harm. I don’t think I had much compassion for myself.
I suppose we need to acknowledge here that I was going through the process of realizing that I had a mental illness (separable from the gender issues, but possibly linked via stress and trauma) and how severely it impacted me. (I’m still going through the latter.) I was incredibly judgmental of myself, and had experienced messages undermining my self worth and the idea that I could contribute to a positive world, directed at me for so long that I had difficulty remembering happiness, and didn’t plan to make it to 30. (If I had thought I would live longer, maybe I would have majored in something in which I could see a future?)
I’ve spent a relatively long time dealing with the concept of Void…that Void is the source of all things; that it is useful precisely because it is the potential of all things. Void exists “before” Yin and Yang (quotes, because the concept of “time” when nothing exists, is questionable); it is what things and their complements or “shadow sides” arise from. I’ve also been dealing with shadow for quite a while, so much so that the positive aspects which contrast with the shadow may be in effect obscured.
Maybe I should take the time to view the positive aspects of my own greatest shadows. Although that might be emotionally difficult, the task itself sounds interesting — if I can get straight exactly what I’m doing.
There is another issue in being afraid to step out from Void and make a statement, in one way or another. To say something involves both the positive side (what appears on the face of it) and the negative side (I’m unsure what this would be: perhaps what is not being said, but still part and parcel of the original statement?). If creating involves the “end of” pure potential…to what extent is any type of growth and development, the end of (perhaps the happy end of) potential; at what point must rajas take over from tamas?
Or, to what extent is creation the intended and necessary end of pure potential? To what extent can we afford to continue to admire the beauty of potential, long past the point where that potential should have been realized and borne fruit? Does the experience of life necessitate forming oneself and coming into one’s own as something specific, with one’s own identity?
In recent months — or years, I can’t tell any longer — I’ve begun to cut these strands of beads apart immediately after obtaining them. This is to eliminate that barrier which has driven me to avoid using them for their intended purposes…which, in realms other than the philosophical — or, perhaps with greater significance, psychological — doesn’t make sense.
I now have…eight color schemes to work with, one of which has been on the back burner for years (denim, off-white, and Blue Iris). I also have plans for two of those color schemes: one will be Dutch Spiral; the other will be Chevron Stitch. I did dig out my Samples box today, so I can see examples of my past work I’ve wanted to duplicate. Thank you to whatever inspired me not to move it far from where it was before!
I’ve begun to look back into my beading library; I actually have some decent books which show how to make things I would never have come up with (contrary to my earlier statements about known basic patterns). Many of those patterns, however…involve shaped or multi-hole beads. I haven’t purchased any new beadwork books in quite a while; it would be interesting to browse a bookstore now (or at least a library, fabric store, craft store, or bead store) and see what’s currently in vogue.
I’ve also got to remember that I don’t need to worry about running out of beads! (Not anytime soon, anyway.) As well: Japanese beading books are not necessarily better than ones wholly in English language. I’ve just been struck by the sheer variety of books I’ve collected over the years…only some of which directly relate to beadweaving.
Under pressure to find an anchor for my life (apparently I seem unmoored to those around me, and am obviously having symptoms of social anxiety), I have decided, recently, to try and range back into writing. This is the thing I’d do even if I weren’t being paid for it. It’s the thing I keep coming back to even when I have nothing to talk about. Having something to talk about (along with keeping my hands busy, which helps keep me stable) is part of the reason I’m doing the beadwork. You can see where this is going.
I am, essentially, an intensely introspective and thoughtful writer. There is no way for me to write — for myself, and with meaning — without letting the reader know who I am and what I have experienced (I’m not a journalist). When I go into exposition about my life, identity, and experience, that’s only the most obvious form of…trying to, needing to share. No, I don’t understand social realities, but thanks. 😉
This blog has been a place where I can exercise my writing skills, and through which I’ve been able to write while safely distancing myself from my deeper psychological troubles, as I’ve needed to. However: the psychological troubles are continuing to impact me. Especially now that I’m able to engage with the outside world again, and am concomitantly encountering the same misled attention that I had to deal with, beforehand.
I won’t be able to go through the rest of my life avoiding people and social interaction. I need to write some of this stuff out. I know this is the Internet; but nothing written is ever “safe,” is it?