The heat still radiated out from the walls, although the sun had ceased to blaze about an hour ago. Lee could feel the sweat sticking to her, evaporating all too slowly.
But how are you going to do it? she thought.
It amused her: she worked surrounded by books, with the ability every day to take home a new writing, and yet something had stopped her from even opening anything that wasn’t based in reality.
Nearly every day, she tried to write, and even then found herself avoiding what she had once been happy to resign herself to, as life’s work.
Somewhere, buried under mountains of excuses, fears, and projections, lay the reason why. But she didn’t know it, couldn’t see it. There was too much in the way.
I have to open up if I want to be creative. Without it, my work will suffer.
How many generations of artists had lived through eras of their work being constricted by the pressures of the market? For how many years had Lee lived with the spectre of her own…shall we say…mental irregularities?
She hesitated to call herself “insane.” Insanity was a legal term. It meant a person couldn’t tell right from wrong. She wasn’t insane in that sense. But her fear,
if I let them see who I am, I’ll just show the world I am insane,
that stopped her. Over the years it was possible to learn how to blend in, how not to frighten people by being too friendly, how to avoid glares as a reward for eye contact.
Even the word for it — schizophrenic…
The vast majority of people, even educated people…even her professors — didn’t know what it meant. They had a tendency to link the term with multiple personalities, which was not even close to what she meant when she used the term in a clinical (not pejorative) sense.
So she just didn’t use it.
Due to complications, she couldn’t even say, though, that when people did use the term wrongly, based in 19th-century dogma, that they used it inaccurately. No one’s mind is whole. So why am I so scared of opening the door to…that?
I’ve stood here, watching you, every day…writing these things out. Have you forgotten your primary purpose? Since you have gained to fortitude to begin to live, your fear has overwhelmed you.
Because now my employment depends on…
…depends on appearing “normal?” That’s why you chose the field you did. You know it is normal within the arts and within letters not to be “normal.”
But I don’t know if I’ll stay,
You are not trapped. Believe me when I say that I hear you where you fear becoming another like the ones you try to separate yourself from. But you are not them. You have not reached the point of spewing diatribes from upturned cartons on the sidewalk. And I know a thinner line than you would like, divides you from those you smell before you see. But you have care. They don’t.
Then what separates us?
Lee looked over her shoulder at the dimming twilight.
I’ve never been hospitalized. I’ve never been homeless. I have access to medication and mental health facilities.
I don’t want to be hospitalized. I don’t want to be homeless. I don’t want to lose access to medication and mental health facilities.
This world was not made for me.
But you live here. And if you want to be an artist — no. If you want to make an impact on the world, you have got to face the idea that people will come to know you. I know you’ve been hurt in the past, but you’re no longer a child.
I only live among children.
Listen to me. Which part of you/I/us are you talking from, now?
STOP BEING CONTROLLED BY FEAR AND DO YOUR DUTY.
can you live fearlessly?