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Sweatpants & Sanity l Finding the Guts to Make Things When I Feel Lost

By Jerusha Gray


Art is a conversation between the artist and their culture.

Adam Savage said something similar to this. And I agree.

What do you do when everything you have to say is sad?

“Sad is not sexy. Sad is not popular. Sad and depressed make terrible memes and social media graphics, pushing us all to do better; to be better.”

It’s hard to make these days. I don’t have very much inside to give. I feel selfishly protective of what’s left. I can’t help but feel like the things that I make with that bit of energy left is just for me. I am still drawing, and painting, and writing. Nearly all of this work is stuff that I will likely throw away later…yet it still pours out in the cracks of good intentions. I paste them into my journal that journeys with me always. At least here, there is no judgment. I have free reign to be who I am regardless. There is little push to share this with anyone else.

How do I reconcile this with a life that’s been built on experiencing the world and sharing that experience with others through words, ink, and paint? I honestly don’t know.

I carry a fear around with me that tells me that this need and energy and willingness to make things is a finite resource and will soon be gone.

This cycle of defeat breeds more defeat.

I know that creation begets creation as well.

The wellspring is blocked by fear and pain and confusion.  

Words help bring me back to wholeness but they are blocked by what is and what could be. I know that I can get there if I can manage to break the seal that is valiantly trying to keep a lid on life in my brain.

Watch your step, boys and girls and non-binary folk;

My brain is a fucked-up place to be.

I often find myself flipping through the pages of my notebooks, looking for inspiration; some outlet for the building pressure in my chest from not creating things. The pages are thick with layered notes taped-in. I realized that each of these tiny notes are landmarks back to wholeness.

If I am sad, I have to give myself permission to make things that are sad.

If I am content, it is permissible to create things that are quiet and muted.

My audience is population one – me.

It doesn’t matter how it will be received.

Perhaps it will connect with someone else. Perhaps it will connect with many folks.  I am not responsible for their reactions.

It is okay to be sad.

It is okay to feel blocked.

It is okay to write dark things.

It is okay to paint dark things.

It is okay if nobody gets it.

It is okay if people get it and don’t like it.

I play to an audience of one.

This is me –

Continuing to find my feet.

Jerusha Gray

Jerusha Gray is insatiably curious. This curiosity, coupled with a brain that never shuts up, drives her to paint and draw, read prodigiously, make music, write, and sing in grocery stores.

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