I’m rather taken with the idea of a literary superstar writing an undercover blog. A thought I had yesterday after reading the Guardian interview with Sally Rooney, of Conversations With Friends and Normal People fame.
As reported, Rooney suffers the afflictions of literary superstardom, and doesn’t like them, for various reasons: trolls, the expectations of other’s, unwarranted criticism, etc. For myself, I’d be happy to suffer in return for the readers, talent and spare cash. Think of all the clothes I could buy, and she does look well dressed. I’d certainly welcome the adulation, in return for the social stigma of being a middle-aged women on benefits, with multiple sections under the mental health act under her belt. But I won’t emulate her because I’m no good at novels, and it’s too late, as well as impossible, to be young again.
Apparently, she had no intention of writing a novel, it just ‘happened’. I think this is probably the best way in life. I now believe that trying to hard can in fact preclude a success. I read this in Geoff Dyer yesterday too: “It was touch and go [a game of ping pong] but I lost because I wanted to win so badly I was destined to loose.” This is from his literary travelogue: Yoga For People Who Can’t Be bothered To Do It, which is a good read.
Yes, I think I would relish being a literary superstar, who wrote an undercover blog just to see what happened. Would my talent shine through? Would I have a line of editors requesting column’s in the dailies? Readers galore? Or is success more of a case of luck, of being in the right place at the right time? Are there many people, unpublished, with all the talent of Rooney but none of her luck? I don’t know the answer obviously, but I quite like today’s blog post title as a new heading. And it’s the only one I thought up myself, rather than appropriating from some other context — I Am A Cloud is borrowed from Alan Watts. Thinking of oneself as a cloud is meant to signify the idea that life is just being — like a cloud. That there are no mistakes. A hard thought to get ones head around, I know, but appealing nonetheless.
This notion — that one can try too hard and thus ensure failure works for me in terms of my lifelong quest to find my soul mate. I was reflecting earlier on today that had I not been looking for my soul mate — that one person to make me complete — I might actually have found a suitable partner. I might have a family of my own now, something I really wanted and feel sad that I don’t have. But I just wanted it so much that every time I felt like I had found them, it didn’t work. I went with an idea in my head instead of noticing reality! Usually, they liked me as a friend, but that was all.
The other wrong thing with my quest was that it was a bit of a cliche. This was printed out to me in a writing class when I tried to write stories about my misadventures. Life is actually, in and of itself, a whole lot more interesting than this stupid fixation I was possessed with. Real life with real people.
I think that a large part of the reason I was convinced that finding my soul mate was the answer was because I didn’t have love or a family life as a child. I wasn’t held, mirrored or allowed to flourish. That meant that I had no real sense of self and what I might enjoy or be good at. With that gaping hole inside me I felt this need of an other to give me a sense of purpose and identity. To have an idealised family unit, at last. Well, now I realise the whole thing was just a dysfunctional fiction, at least I am free of it. My freedom has also arrived at a time in my life when my Bipolar disorder is under control for the first time — with medication and sobriety. Because of this, I am apt to think that my mission was a symptom of my illness. A delusion. I could say a lot more about the negative consequences of my delusion, which were extreme and awful, but I can’t really be bothered. Suffice it to say that every potential soul mate discovery heralded a catastrophe of quite monstrous proportions. And I made a lot of enemies into the bargain. How much better off I would have been to have had a quest to be a novelist all my life. But that was part of the problem the soul mate fantasy fixed — it gave me purpose.
Anyway. I still wrote a lot because all those soul mates were usually writers of one sort or another. Or talented storytellers. Thus mirroring my true objective.
In other news, after reading Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, by Jaron Lanier (a very compelling speaker), after watching The Social Dilemma on Netfix, I have in fact done what he advised. I have deleted my social media apps and refrained from reinstalling them in a fit of desperation. The net result of this action is that I have been reading properly again. My attention span has widened, and I feel a bit less miserable.
Speaking of feeling a bit less miserable, I’m sure that returning to therapy has definetly improved things on the mood front. I am longer feeling haunted by the all-pervading feeling that my life is over. As a result of our conversation I have also taken up this daily walk we had thought, together, might improve my mood. It probably has. I guess I also, it sounds a bit corny, but I feel more supported. I feel less burdened and alone.
Speaking further of feeling less miserable, the waves of grief I was being knocked about by in relation to my ex (my final soul mate hope) are finally subsiding and the sea has calmed. As a strategy I am opting for neutrality. Whilst I am not going to send him an “F off” message, (slightly pointless as it was he who ended it), I’m also not going to keep trying to keep our friendship afloat. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before! I suppose it’s because I am a person of extremes. The middle way, that of moderation, does not come naturally to me.
That said, I think poet Joseph Brodsky’s insight that “one is changed by what one loves”, holds true in this instance. It’s true because T (my ex) has Bipolar disorder. In accepting, even admiring, him, Bipolar and all; with all the failures, heartaches and problems, a history of the Bipolar illness brings, it’s allowed me to imagine the possibility of viewing myself similarly. That would mean that I would consider my experiences, not through the eyes of someone judgemental and disapproving, instead, I would see myself as a person worthy of admiration and respect. As someone desirable, which in truth, was another factor in the soul mate fantasy: a desire to be valued for who I am.
So, in some sense, finding ‘soul mate’ T, did provide me, or has the potential to provide, what I hoped for. And then, if I manage this magical twist of self-approval, I wouldn’t need to be a literary superstar to have a bit of self esteem. Being me would, at last, be enough.