Endings and beginnings: one cannot exist without another. They are a pair, like dawn and sunset, as they work to separate the day from the night by the light of the sun. In a way, it is a single line that shares two sides, but the more closely you examine it, zooming in on the blackness of the line between them, the harder they are to separate. My understanding is ‘logically’ flawed – I do not subscribe to logic. I am an artist, and I deal in dreams. It’s a risky business. There are few that understand. To live on the fringe of society, neither a part of it nor embraced by it. That line, ‘the in-between’, becomes the place where you learn to carry your hopes and your dreams, where you can grow your creativity; the unforgiving space of potential.
But there is a reason that this is a dangerous space, there is a reason that ordinary members of society limit their interaction with the silence of the in-between. Society craves stimulation and our world is fraught with distractions, because to be quiet and face ourselves is the hardest action. To be alone with our thoughts and actions and examine them? Understand them? It is scary, because what can you learn in the in-between that so few claim as their own?
I made the terrible mistake of confusing ‘the middle’ and ‘the in-between’ and as a result, I have learnt to make it my home. The last five years have been rough. I have wasted the better part of my twenties, not being wild and foolish, but being cruel and unforgiving towards myself. I have taken my experience of the in-between and allowed to it become a barren wasteland.
For a long time I felt like I was stuck, hopelessly in the middle. No end or new beginning in sight. There’s a line from Macbeth that used to haunt and comfort me:
‘I am in blood
Stepped in so far that should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er.’ (Macbeth: Act III)
The middle, or in this case the in-between, became like wading through molasses. It feels like stagnation and, in my experience, it was painful. The tediousness of knowing, and the anxiety of worrying about the potential outcomes: it was paralysing.
It is only in recent months that I have sought ways to move forward and strengthen myself emotionally and mentally once more. I can now look back on the last five years in the in-between and be grateful. I have had to learn how to make it a creative space once more, a space of hope and fulfilment, a space of possibilities. There are days when I still feel the pull, the heaviness, that tries to weigh me down in the thick treacle-like molasses of the in-between. It is with dread that I can feel the rise of anxiety and fear that tries to stifle the flames of creativity and care that I have tried to tend once more into blazing torches.
As a result of this commitment, I am fast approaching the end of something that I have spent years allowing myself to be driven mad by; something that I was not brave enough to walk away from; something that has taught me more about myself than another person could possibly learn in several lifetimes. And it scares the life out of me. But I must finish this – for no one else but me. There will be no more molasses, no more swamp of blood to drag me down. This too shall pass, and . . . I am faced simultaneously with a new beginning for next year.
It’s a curious thing, isn’t it? All that worrying and anxiety had no impact on these endings and beginnings. No, it was the renewal of my investment of the in-between, and my examination of the self, that led to these changes. And this work on myself is far from over; it demands a daily commitment. It is relentless. There will be no end or beginning. And perhaps there is a kind of comfort there. I will skip the entirety of the in-between from this impending ending and find a way to carry it with me instead. And the beginning that lies ahead? Well, I guess I’ll tell you about it next year! Either way, the sun will continue to rise and set, a thousand dawns and sunsets a head of me.
Danielle | @inkpad89