I’m going to be honest with you friends– getting a blog post out in late July has been absolute torture for me. Not because I don’t like writing this blog, but because every summer I fall prey to a phenomenon I can only describe as “getting weird in the brain”.
Weird in the brain is hard to explain, but basically what happens is that my ability to focus or adhere to any kind of set schedule totally evaporates by mid July. What’s funny is that if I don’t write myself any kind of to-do list, oftentimes I’ll find myself busily doing all sorts of cool stuff, so clearly, it’s not that my summer brain hates activity. What it hates is being told what to do. If I ask it to go left, it takes off to the right. If I try to do something I enjoy, it tells me I don’t actually enjoy that thing anymore after all. There’s no distinct rhyme or reason to it, but it seems to impact my ability to do creative work most of all. I’ve chatted with other creatives about this, and it seems to be a fairly common thing, which is comforting. Still, we all handle it differently.
I get really down on myself when my brain gets summer-weird, telling myself all kinds of mean stuff about how I’m not measuring up, not doing the things I should/would/could be doing if I were a different, more focused person—that I’m failing at that most beloved American pastime, being productive. I can go for weeks in the summer, lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling, wracked with anxiety that I’m not doing life right, I’m not succeeding as a creative person. I’m not exaggerating. It is truly exhausting, not to mention a bad way to nurture the creative self. This is supposed to be fun, right?
So this year, I’ve decided I have had enough. I’m done, gang. I’ve tried the whole “torture myself with anxiety for no good reason” thing, and I have yet to see any appreciable return. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, the world is a mind-bending, energy-sapping shit show right now, and adding more stress to my plate seems unnecessary. Instead of my usual routine, I’m going to give something different a shot: rolling with my natural rhythms, and seeing where they take me. Maybe weird in the brain is just nature’s way of encouraging me to let go of external standards (real or imagined), in favor of honoring my own inner instinct. I notice none of the birds or animals in my yard seem to be wracked with anxiety right now, by the way. Mostly just a lot of pecking at the ground and hiding in bushes and eating weeds. I could stand to take a page from their book.
Ironically, when I named my blog Coast & Climb, it was partly in reference to the idea that a balanced, fulfilling life involves active periods, and fallow times—when it may not feel like we’re doing much at all. It’s during those fallow times when much of our growth happens, quietly, in the background, as we simply get on with the business of living. Without realizing it, all the great stuff we put in our heads during our active times is slowly taking root, soaking up nutrients, getting ready for the next big burst.
If I can learn to see my summer brain as a normal seasonal phenomenon, and not a catastrophic failing, it might look a lot like a healthy fallow field–an essential part of the creative process–instead of a nightmare hell-scape where I rewrite the same blog post six times. I’m going to give it a shot, and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.