Saturday, June 29, 2013

Binge and Purge

I go through phases where I am overflowing with creativity and a desire to build things and make music and photograph things.  Sometimes this lasts a week, sometimes it lasts two months.  Then I will invariably go through a phase where I don't want to build things at all.  I want to consume art and beauty in all its forms.  I want to play new games, be immersed in new stories, and see new typefaces and architecture and arrangements of color.  I mean, I always want to do those things, but sometimes the craving is much stronger.  It's a binge and purge cycle, where I ingest beauty and then later spew it out.

In the past I saw this with a more depressing light: there was the time of creativity, and the creative funk.  I saw the consumption phase as laziness—I had this feeling that I was being lazy and wasting my time on this earth if I wasn't trying to make things.  But I'm starting to understand a little better that in the grand scheme of things, if you go two months without making anything, it's not a failure.  It's not a failure that the sun isn't always out every hour of the day; it's part of a natural cycle that keeps plants growing while preventing us from baking to our deaths.  Even if right now I don't feel like making anything new, I will in a week, or a month, or a season.  Feeling bad about it as a way to motivate myself into being productive is probably not the right way to deal with it.  It's resting, to give me the energy to be creative again when the cycle moves on, and research to fill me ideas.

When I was younger I think the phases of this cycle were much shorter—no more than a couple days.  I wonder now if this was simply because I was younger, and time felt more compressed, or if it's because I work full-time now.  "Real life" is way more stressful and mentally exhausting than school was.  I do have a parallel cycle at work, where I'm very productive for a while and totally unproductive for a while, but regardless of which phase it is I'm still working for a similar amount of time, and it can take a lot out of me.

Certainly the "binge" phase of the cycle is much simpler mentally, when I can passively sit and watch TV or cast spells at monsters on my computer screen.  Work and social demands and anything else that exhausts me can perhaps lengthen the time I stay in the binge phase.  But perhaps unlike in real life, the purging is generally more long-term rewarding.  And I need both parts to be happy.

No comments: