past lives

I’ve spent the past few days sick in bed. It’s been awhile since I’ve been so laid out that I couldn’t remotely function. The strangest part was not having complete control over my mind. Everything was foggy and slow, especially words. Mostly though it was utterly boring. Unable to do the things I wanted and unable to sleep, I just laid there, watching tv and movies, most of which couldn’t really hold my limited attention.

I did manage to watch the new COSMOS, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe it was just the mentions of Sagan and the Voyager, or the story of little Neil deGrasse Tyson being extended such kindness by a great scientist, but the show really got to me on an emotional level. I’ve been fretting a lot recently about the destruction us humans have wrought on our planet and it was nice to see the bigger cosmic universe for a moment and feel small in both time and space. Not that it lets us off the hook but sometimes you just need a different perspective and a little relief.

Humans spend so much time looking forward or looking back. It’s not easy to be in the present when there is so much ahead of us and so much that we’ve left behind. I’ve been thinking a lot about roads not taken recently, mostly in terms of art. It is a topic I come back to often, having been trained as a painter and with my film studies through the lens of video art and critical theory rather than by way of story plotting and pitching scripts. I gave up painting at some point. It’s something that I occasionally feel sadness about. A tiny death to make space for other things. It’s not like I couldn’t pick it back up, but it’s the one thing that I’ve let go that I do experience remorse over. I consider what that path would have been, every time getting stuck on the fact that it’s painfully difficult for me to try to sell something that I’ve made. Which is pretty much going to be a problem with whatever I do artistically.

It is more comforting to think back on those things that I know how to do rather than those that I do not (I still need to learn to code or this craft or that), or worse the paths not explored (biology would have been a fascinating option). It’s a relief when I’m exhausted by the film industry to think about particular video art pieces that are rarely seen. The thought serves as a reminder that sometimes you just have to keep creating without experiencing any success for a long long time. Or perhaps never. Or perhaps just enough so that a girl in art school can watch a vhs of something you made in the library and never forget it.

photo from NASA, ESA, and D. Gouliermis (University of Heidelberg)

4 Responses to “past lives”
  1. Erin says:

    Alix, I loved this, and your words will be wandering around in my thoughts for a while. I hope you feel better.

  2. Vegyogini says:

    It’s so challenging to be sidelined by an illness, even a short-lived one. I’m happy you’re feeling better!

    I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about what interests and skills I’ve foregone in favor of others and what lies ahead. Will I continue on this path? Will I go back to school for something completely different? All I know is I’m grateful for the life I have and all the possibilities and opportunities. Thanks for sharing your sentiments on this topic.

  3. This was beautiful! I loved the new COSMOS and thought the tribute to Sagan at the end was especially moving. I didn’t know that he was a mentor for NDT – it’s so fitting that he picked up that torch.

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