Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Painting Sisyphus

It was almost four years ago exactly that I began work on my epic project. I knew from the beginning it would be the coolest thing I would ever do.

But, the joke was on me.

Sometimes, when you stand back and assess something calmly, you realize it’s just not going to happen. You have to put down the paint brush, put the painting away, and call it a lifetime.

Some things look so much better in my head than they do in reality and I obsessed over this painting like nothing I’d ever done before. But even I, the most tenacious woman alive, had to be rational and admit to myself that it was nothing other than a dismal, horrific failure. I talked myself through it, thinking that I’d eventually find a way to make all of those amazing little splotches (that were so much fun to create) connect in a way that ended in something meaningful and balanced. I’m a spirited, cheerful gal most of the time, so it’s not that hard to find the enthusiasm to keep going, even when things look completely hopeless. But when I took a really hard look, I saw a bunch of lines, tiny connections, and empty space that coalesced into squat. There was no meaning in it, or anything that I will be thankful that I saw ten years from now. Just a big lot of nothing special that I’d assured myself would come together in time. What a shit realization, eh? I can’t even say that the process was great because lately, each moment that I worked on it, I felt kind of empty by the time I was done, like each creative impulse I’d put into it was sucked into the canvas, never to be seen again. Every stroke of the brush reinforced the knowledge that not only was it going nowhere, it was looking uglier and uglier with each passing moment. There was no reward for the work and that in itself was a slap in the face and probably the reason I plugged away for so long. I just knew I'd get my props eventually. The final dregs of hope were scraped out from the uterus where the aborted fetus of “almost was” had jettisoned a few months ago. Now, those bloody bits of maybe are festering in a biohazard bag on the garbage pile of my psyche.

When you give up on something that you know had real potential to be legendary, it’s like a huge, black hole, sucking the life right out of you and straight into a cesspool. I think that the better something could have been, the worse it looks when it turns out to be nothing.

Sometimes, failure rests in a dark corner of your life, staring accusingly. It would never admit that it holds your fuck-ups against you and always will, so you force yourself to believe that it doesn’t. Who wants to admit that something really is beyond their ability? You can always roll over like a broken dog, dwell in the dark of blind faith, and wait for Godot. Well, fuck that. Nothing is worth ghosting my way through life especially a nebulous “almost was” like that poor, unfinished painting. Probably some other artist out there will grab the muse from the collective unconscious and channel it into something so nice I’ll want to puke my guts out. And I will eat the still- beating heart from that artists’ chest. Ha, just kidding. No really.

So, off to another year on the tail of the comet of irony that bears witness to what I thought would be my greatest work turning into my most spectacular failure.

I can’t see anything from here and I’m starting to like it. Nothing left to finish, nothing left to be left and praise baby Jesus, nothing to push uphill anymore.

Resolution: Complete. Now, only thing left is ice cream and Nico.