We had just sat down to dinner. I took a bite of stirfry and asked him about his day, and while his mouth was moving and sounds were issuing forth, my mind said, “I think maybe we should move to the Puget Sound, but the peninsula, to escape the climate change induced apocalypse. Open Redfin, Now.” A pause, he starting saying something else. My mind continued, “We have to cancel everything, the Delta variant is out of control, what are we going to do I feel trapped this is terrible is this just life now I can’t do this–” I stared past him and yelled at my inner crazy, “not now!”
It had been like this most of my day. I work from home and can easily get lost down dark roads of news feeds, crazed prepper shit and hyper vigilance about the weather–another Unprecedented heatwave is here. Every trip has to be reconsidered around heat waves and wild fires and covid risk. I want nothing more than to get the fuck out of the house, but it feels impossible.
I live for flow state, getting completely lost in a task so that I lose track of time and depart this mess for a higher plane of existence. However, my current work seems to be a million tiny paper cuts, involving other people, vague problems, and lots of clicking around. The worst kind of work.
Normally I would be able to find something positive here (fixing bugs makes people happy! I’m learning new things! People aren’t all bad!). But given the prevailing m00d, I’m a walking geyser of negativity and can find no solace in any of it. I distract myself with news, which only kicks me further down the anxiety spiral.
I keep hearing about how everyone is burned out, and I feel whatever the negative opposite of that is. The giant void that is depression. My work is very gracious about not burning people out and not giving people too much to do; so I sit in my silent house and stare at the clouds and ruminate on the end of the world. The less I have to do, the harder each task feels, until requesting a PR review feels like one mountain too many. I would kill for a big meaty project that could take my mind off of *waves at the world*.
If you thought I would end this post with how I hacked away this encroaching feeling of existential dread, you are mistaken. We all have every right to feel this way, everyone in the world. But some people are actually going to do something about it… like repost infographics about climate collapse on Instagram.
No, instead I’ve been thinking a lot about paintings from the time of the Black Death, all those upsetting skeleton paintings. I always found them kind of ridiculous, but I now understand the relentless desire to draw skulls and corpses and burned trees and devils riding white horses. That’s basically life right now. Why not paint from real life? Au plein air?
I haven’t been making art much at all, despite having everything set out and ready to roll and lots of unachieved art goals in my bullet journal. But perhaps the lure of making art about something that feels over the top and embarrassingly goth will entice me to my desk. If I can pull myself out of this sticky void.