The Well of Sorrow

Uzumaki – Junji Ito

Every so often, when I find myself stuck for ideas, I like to hold up a mirror to my face in the dark and stare.

The darkness that surrounds my face, magnifies what I really want to see … the darkness within, bubbling away on the surface of my subconscious.

The mirror is warped in my mind’s eye and all I can really see is the bizarre and twisted visage of me, when I am grieving, sad and self-destructive.

The Damocles that stares back is hideous to say the least. His eyes are completely black, with strange viscous liquid pouring from the corner of his eyes. His mouth is an endless void, devoid of teeth, the blackened lips opened in a soundless scream. The face of this Damocles is always desperate to tear itself free from the black void that surrounds it. There is always something that tears at him and he never seems to have the strength to free himself.

This is the Damocles that reminds me how to embrace the darkness within.

It is this version of myself that really gets me going and being creative again.

If you are asking why … that is a valid enough concern. I’m not a suicidal person. Nor do I consider myself depressed or particularly anxious.

Far from it … I’ve learnt to master a lot of those excessive emotional states when I was younger. Mostly through an extreme combination of rigorous mental deconstruction and egotistical arrogance.

Nowadays, I love myself too much to consider death, learnt to channel anxiety through a heightened sense of paranoia and observational awareness and gotten through depression by voiding and ignoring all thoughts of nihilism, in pursuit of personal glory.

What I believe though, is that this odd state is what happens, generally, to creative people when they are stuck. You need to be in a strange state in order to create. For me, it is staring deep inside and acknowledging the twisted version of myself.

I like putting myself in a state of fear, a strange paradox where the only thing I am truly afraid of … is myself.

If that sounds odd, then I would argue that within us all, is a bizarre desire to be self-destructive. Why else do we do extreme things to apparently feel something? Drinking, Gambling, Speeding, Toxic Relationships, Unhealthy Work-Life Balance … the list goes on.

In fact, I suspect the main reason why it is so difficult to remain healthy, in any period of history, is because we are always in a state of self-implosion. We always seem to be in a rush, always eager to do something rash and foolish, despite the dangers that our subconscious warns us about.

Take a good hard look at yourself, and wonder … why do you do the things you do? Beyond money … is there a real purpose behind your work? Your life? Your daily choices?

It is out of nihilism that you find purpose and meaning to defy the treacherous arms of that type of thinking.

This is why I choose to fear myself, above everything else. By putting myself in that state … I can find meaning and purpose and ideas.

Out of the void, comes light.

What is difficult for me though, is maintaining the right balance of dark and light. I can’t draw too much from this Well of Sorrow lest it consumes me and push me onto a path I don’t want to travel down.

After all, a big reason why people are afflicted with so much mental problems is because they continue to draw from their own personal Well and drink so much of it, that it clouds their thinking, causing them to lose purpose and drive.

It is all too easy to lose sight of oneself, when you are always in a state of drowning.

Bathe if you must, but never submerge yourself.

I used to wallow in my own Well. As an angry, despondent and purposeless man, this seemed like the best mental state to be in. Nothing mattered, little things would cause anger and resentment and I couldn’t laugh at myself, arguably the biggest sin of them all. I took everything with a seriousness it didn’t deserve, and would lash out frequently at friends, family, and strangers.

This is what happens when you indulge in the Well too much. Your ego becomes fragile, your confidence disappears, and anxiety, not awareness, turns into paranoia and self-sabotage.

You blame the world for your problems, not realising that your choice to drink from the poisoned chalice is what is truly causing everything to go wrong.

So why is it addicting? Why do I need it to be creative?

It is addicting, because it is so easy. Life seems easier knowing that you have nothing to do with it, you don’t contribute, you don’t participate nor engage with life. Nothing matters, says your twisted mind …

How wrong that all is. Of course things matter. Your health matter, your self belongs somewhere and you have value. You just need to create and become something you know you can be. You need to find work that fulfil and sustains you, your lifestyle and your health.

You just need to learn how to enjoy life. Let the money flow, the good times roll, and your body relax.

There needs to be a lovely cycle, where you work strenuously and efficiently, hard and well … so that when the end of the week, when you relax and actually enjoy a good meal, a drink and a pastime, it all feels worth it.

Learning to appreciate finer food, after dieting for a week, is a great way to recover your mental energy.

But life isn’t always perfect like that. Sometimes, I get this incredibly annoying sensation that I am not doing enough. This bereft feeling will drive me insane until I have this urge to write.

However, what do I write about? How do I enter my flow state, where words, mind, paper and pen become one? Only by indulging in the Well of Sorrow, by having a small drink, do I unlock my ability to write semi-well.

But that is the thing about the Well, every time I drink from it, I feel vaguely disgusted with myself. There is a strange symbiotic relationship that I have with the darker version of myself. It is almost parasitic even.

I do wish I could be frequently creative and able to enter the flow state at a whim without resorting to the Well of Sorrow, because whenever I do drink from it, it always seem to take a lot out of me at once. I can’t sleep, I don’t eat properly and there is only the insane desire to write.

This isn’t healthy nor conducive to my full-time work nor my overall health.

I especially wish I could use my creative ability under pressure. There are only rare occasions when I have to use my writing ability under the clock, but every time I am left with a piece of work that is disappointing and poorly written. I truly and honestly, wish I could be more workmanlike with my skill, as would make life a lot easier.

Especially when it comes to something fun, like the 48HR Film Project, which is a fun challenge that my friends and I like to do. But every time I am under that type of pressure to write a screenplay or a script, everything seems to fall apart, much to my dismay and annoyance.

I suppose that is why this blog is so eclectic in its content. Only when I am soul-searching like I am now, or gripped in the vices of the Well of Sorrow do you see new writing appear.

I just hope one day I can put that Well to rest and find some new ways to inspire me to create.

~ Damocles.

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