Last year was by and large a bad time in my life. Coming to the end of film school left me for the first time without a clear and attainable goal I was working towards, and with no real advances on the writing front it became very easy to sink into a general feeling of dreary sadness. I lived in a crappy apartment in which I spent most of my time alone and worked a day job so far away that I had no time to even entertain the idea of a real social life. My writing slowed, my friendships flagged, my headspace darkened and my drinking increased. I think the worst part of all of it was the fact that I was bored. A day off wasn’t relaxing; it meant having to find a way to fill the empty hours, which inevitably meant cheap wine and reruns of TV shows I’d seen a million times before.
But, if there’s one thing I wholeheartedly believe, it’s that things always get better, and every bleak moment of 2015 became okay when my life blew up in new and exciting ways towards the end of it. And pretty much since then it’s been a non-stop barrage of busyness.
Today I wrote down a list of all the projects I’m working on at the moment and seeing them on paper is kind of absurd. It’s possible that I have taken on too much, but I don’t feel that way. Between a comic, a web series, several plays, a musical, rewrites on the second Boone Shepard novel, my work with Sanspants Radio and Den of Geek and the ongoing job that is the Windmills TV Series, I’ve got no shortage of exciting and varied things happening and barely enough time to commit to all of them. Which, by the way, is great.
It’s a weird position to be in. Of the above projects only a couple are actually bringing in any money and while most of the rest have a strong potential for a good payday at the end, nothing is enough of a sure bet for me to actually quit my day job, which leaves me with every waking hour full of responsibilities. I’ve had a meeting of sorts every night this week and as such I’ve barely had five minutes to sit at home and drink hot chocolate to fight off the grim weather. Tomorrow I’ll have a night off and I am stupidly excited to just watch TV and do nothing. One year ago, the very prospect of this would have sent my mood plummeting.
The thing is, I don’t do well with free time. I mean sure, I need it, but my mind goes to weird places if left to its own devices too long and so it’s imperative that I’m always working on something, which means walking a fine line between keeping occupied and becoming stressed. A couple of times this year that balance has tipped; not long ago, during the run of The Lucas Conundrum I got home from a performance to have a friend start discussing another project with me and I almost started crying because of how much I had to do and how little time I had to do any of it. I was tired to my bones almost every day, but even that feeling wasn’t a bad one because, crucially, it meant that things were happening. Things have been happening ever since that life changing phone call late last year that set me on a path to New York and things haven’t stopped happening since. And having seen a part of my life where that wasn’t the case, I know I never ever want to return to that. Busy is better than bored, even if busy is highly stressful.
When I was a kid, the mother of a friend gave me a small, beautiful polished stone, the kind of thing you can buy at hippy stalls at Sunday markets. She explained to me that she suffered from depression sometimes and as such she liked to keep this rock in her bag; every time she found it while rummaging through her possessions she had to think of something she was grateful for. To this day it astounds me that she was able to recognise even as a child that I might need something like that. I still have that rock and I still regularly find it while reaching for a book or pen from my bag, and while a year ago I had to stop and think about what I was grateful for and it usually ended up being something like ‘I guess I’m alive’, nowadays it takes seconds for something to come to mind, and a different thing every time. And I guess that fact alone deserves more gratitude than anything else.
I don’t really believe in lasting happiness; I think that it’s something that ebbs and flows and as long as you can always recognise that the bad times will pass and things will improve you can weather the storm and be okay. What’s more I think it’s better that life is that way, because the more time we spend being happy the less we appreciate it. Last year was tough because as far as bad times go it was an especially long one. But it was worth it because I feel like the wave I managed to catch at the end of the year is somehow still going. And that isn’t a bad place to be at all.
Writing words about writing words.