“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” ~ Virginia Woolf
I have long loved this quote and have in many ways modeled my life on it. Even my artwork, primarily digital collage, is a literal arrangement of pieces. I had it included in my online bio at one point and may do so again. It certainly fits the challenges I face or, to honor the metaphor, the pieces coming my way. In the year plus I have written here at Scoutie Girl I have made many changes in my online presence, but my personal life has been pretty stable. Actually the past 2 years, since I have allowed myself to do what I love, life has been as good as it gets for me.
Six months ago all that changed and some very unfamiliar pieces came my way.
I am still far from figuring out how this new picture looks, or where the pieces may fit. That is, if they fit anywhere.
The outcome will likely be far more dimensional than smooth on the surface.
A cancer diagnosis is some scary stuff to deal with it, but what you may not know is how much it can affect every crevice of your life. Everyone’s story is different, and in my case I have been quite debilitated. The irony is rich in that I wrote a post back in December, just prior to my diagnosis, pondering how I would respond to living with a permanent disability. I was experiencing the back pain that led to the MRI that revealed the cancer. Yes, I’m writing about it again.
The thing is I don’t know how not to write about it. It has, as mentioned above, permeated every facet of my life. So, how am I arranging the pieces? Well it is a one day at a time process. Some days it is one hour at a time. As an example, I will share the story of how I came to today’s post, the story of how a creative mind works, even when it is not working so well.
Until yesterday I avoided thinking about it. Then, knowing I was running out of time, I opened my mind to the possibility of an idea. Yesterday we were invited to visit with friends for dinner and there was an arts festival going on in the town. We went a bit early to browse the festival, and while walking back to the car I saw this wall.
This worn and broken building woke something in me that is deeper and stronger than the depression and lethargy I’ve been battling.
My beginnings as a photographer and digital artist were born from abandoned buildings. These forgotten or neglected structures serving as a metaphor for my aging body, although it took time to understand that connection. As soon as I saw the wall I imagined my body scans layered upon the walled up windows. Or, in this case, the x-ray of my newly constructed spine.
How different is my body now that cancer has taken over? My very bones have been replaced by titanium, not unlike the resurrection of an old and broken building. I do believe I have another new series of work here!
I became seriously fatigued last night, another highlight of my new life, and was in bed by 8:00, bailing early on my dear friends. I thought no more about the post. A good sleep must have helped. I often process work and solve problems in my sleep and dreams.
The quote came to me this morning as my topic to spin, and then as soon as I arrived on the Scoutie Girl page, Janice Bear’s very honest post on mental disorders caught my attention. I admit to being depressed lately due to my circumstances, but the truth is I have struggled with depression for many years and have been medicated for most of them, including now. Those who have not experienced mental disorders may assume that the medication always works. Not so. I am currently experiencing situational depression in addition to my normal problem and while taking meds.
I would reiterate most of what Janice says in terms of solutions to get through the muck, and add one important one for myself:
Just do it!
When Nike first made that phrase popular my husband would tell me all the time to “just do it.” Oh how I loathed that, and yet I’ve come to understand. When you show up to the page, or canvas, or keyboard – whatever your medium of creation – something often happens. As I opened my mind yesterday and was rewarded with the wall, I have many times found inspiration just by showing up, and then I adapt.
I arrange the pieces coming my way, and when they don’t fit I make do.
A square peg may not fill a round hole, but it can still work.
How do you deal with the unwanted pieces that come your way in work, and in life? Do you adapt, compartmentalize, or something other?