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Creative Vegetables

Don't think about it...

I've always dismissed "the suffering artist" as a myth, a bizzare but human excuse to claim ones uniqueness and glorify ones failures. "Ah! See how I suffer! O, see how I sacrifice my personal happiness on the altar of creativity!"

Yeah, right, buddy.

But maybe there is something in that, after all. I've always created (see the entry "Too clever for my own good"), and sure, I've often been unhappy when I've done it. But just as often I haven't been. On closer examination, though, it turns out that the last statement isn't entirely true.

I wasn't unhappy then, because I created, because I fled into the creativity to escape fear, sorrow or impotence to change things I was unhappy with. Maybe that is the core of creativity. You can ask why we have creativity, after all. What evolutionary advantages does it give? What purpose the ability to paint buffaloes on the cave wall, or model voluptous women in clay, when the food is all eaten and you have to go outside and risk becoming food?

Don't think about it...

When reality is too uncomfortable to face, you create a sanctuary. You hide inside your own head, and to be able to do that you have to paint the backdrops, create a landscape to exist in. You conjure a fantasy world, to escape the real.

For a while. Until the fear is a bit less paralyzing. Until you have gathered courage to face it.

You don't think about it. That's the whole point.

Not that I think all creativity comes from a need to escape - far from it. But I think a significant amount does.

These thoughts came last Tuesday. I've got a couple of molars that have been causing me problems, with badly made fillings that have let the corrosion continue underneath until the teeth were more or less entirely gone.

My dentist sent me to a dental surgeon, as this requires that the remains - just the roots - are pulled out, which should be done under serious anastethics. So I went to the surgeon last Tuesday to have the whole thing explained to me. First I'll get an injection that makes me a vegetable. I'll be conscious, but not remember anything and not be able to think coherently. Then I'll get local anastethic and they'll dig the roots out.

Okay, I said, so how long does it take before I can drive? Do I have to take the train here and home again?

You don't understand, they said. You'll be like a zombie. You're not allowed on public transport at all for 24 hours, neither are you allowed to drive or operate machinery. You must bring a minder who'll be responsible for you and make sure you get home safely, in car or taxi. You are not to be left alone until the effects have passed.

Okay, I said, and started thinking about how the logistics for that should be arranged.

Then, as I was driving back from the consultation, it hit me. I don't really know what scared me, but I was all shook up. Maybe because this was a real operation - I've never had surgery before, the closest I've been was to straighten a sprained thumb when I was eleven.

I can handle pain. I don't mind seeing blood. I've got nothing against injections and needles, and I've donated blood and plasm many times. I don't get upset when I hurt myself. Once, when I cut off a bit of my thumb (no, the other, only to be fair) I bled a lot and got dizzy, so I calmly said "Whoops, here comes the shock". And fainted.

Maybe it's because I can't picture myself as a vegetable. I think. More than anything else that defines who I am - I think and analyze.

When I came home, I lay on the bed to calm down. And the thoughts came. The ideas, the words, the images and diagrams. I thought about a book I've planned, about things I was going to write on various places. I thought about the story I was co-serialiseing, how to construct the book shelf I was going to build downstairs, how to design and implement an application I was working on.

The thoughts were not confused, fluttering from here to there, but extremely focused. And as soon as I had finished a line of thought, decided on the best solution, the next subject came, the next idea.

At last this thought arrived, as I began thinking about my thoughts; wondering why I was so creative all of a sudden. I examined it, analyzed, pondered, and finally arrived at what I've written above.

Then I got up. I was physically exhausted, but mentally rested and chould deal with the thoughts of the operation.

[The operation was successful, by the way, and the panic stayed away.]


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