Not the Harvest
by Tara Sophia Mohr
In any creative feat
(by which I mean your work, your art, your life)
there will be downtimes.
Or so it seems.
Just as the earth is busy before the harvest
and a baby grows before its birth,
there is no silence in you.
There is no time of nothingness.
during the quiet times, when the idea flow is hushed and hard to find
you trusted (and yes I mean trusted)
that the well was filling, the waters moving?
What if you trusted
that for the rest of eternity,
without prodding, without self-discipline,
without getting over being yourself,
you would be gifted every ounce of productivity you need?
What would leave you? What would open?
And what if during the quiet times you ate great meals
and leaned back to smile at the stars,
and saw them there, as they always are,
There are seasons and harvest is only a fraction of one of them.
We forget this.
There is the rhythm that made everything.
The next time you stand in the kitchen, leaning,
the next time a moment of silence catches you there,
hear it, that rhythm, and let it place a stone in your spine.
Let it bring you some place beautiful.
I have had a few months now to sit with the reality of having my project funded by you all. While initially, it obviously felt INCREDIBLE, the ability to finally pursue my passion and make something real came with some other, pretty weighty baggage that I did not anticipate.
In my Official Plan, by November 1, I would have arrived in NY in time to rest for the holidays with family and friends, with two solid months of photographing behind me.
In reality, I had three weeks of intense shooting, before I careened off-course and into the realities of my post-car crash body, budget, and emotional state.
I had an awful flight home, because as it turns out, all travel becomes unbearable when you experience a big trauma. I arrived in NY exhausted, in need, and feeling pretty broken.
Here’s a much-needed free beer on board my propeller plane from Missoula.
I’ve recently fallen into an incredible book, “The Art of Asking,” by Amanda Palmer. Apparently this is a woman people know. Someone who tries new things and makes sincere connections and shares her triumphs as well as her struggles, publicly.
She speaks with incredible honesty and candor about her path from having multiple part-time jobs to considering herself a professional musician, and living the reality of that “professional” part without flinching, waiting to be discovered or sussed out as a fraud.
Here’s an excerpt from the book.
“I realize now that I felt chronically guilty about having chosen to be an artist. I didn’t understand this at the time; I just felt a consistent kind of inward torture, pulled towards a life of art while simultaneously feeling foolish for having made that choice. …the needling voices simmered below the surface and gnawed at my subconscious in an endless, grating loop.”
Though I have been, at times, elated and enthused, or inspired and excited about this project, very rarely have I felt real. I’ve been moving forward, making great images, but with a continuous need for productivity.
I’ve been going to doctor’s appointments, and sleeping all the time. Bouncing around between friends’ apartments and feeling generally unwell. As soon as I stopped producing, the guilt flooded in, and I began to feel like a fraud. I figured maybe I didn’t have the talent to do something so big. That three weeks of making was all I had in me. Logically, I understand this is absurd, but logic has so little to do with feelings in the end.
These weeks of not-harvest, not-making, not-doing (also known as resting, worrying, healing, talking…) looked something like this:
It’s been scary to experience this period of waiting, sleeping, not-making and feeling generally shitty. It’s even scarier to share it.
When my Kickstarter was funded, I felt the success and the support in a big, big way. I also drastically misinterpreted its meaning.
I heard, “We believe in you! Now earn it. Go make something great and bring it back. ”
What I now understand is that you, my community of cheerleaders, advocates, supporters and friends, were actually saying, “We believe in you.”
I told Kate on the phone today that I’ve felt like a light switch, and someone has been fucking with my dimmer.
Darker, lighter… flickering on and off.
In the past few days, through some reading, writing, thinking, and (now) picture-taking (!) I’ve turned a corner. I feel like someone flipped my light switch on. And while it is amazing to feel this, it’s even more amazing to feel that the not-harvest, the getting-there, was exactly what I needed to be doing.