kim faires photography + stuff
There was the bizarre guilt-ridden identity crisis I suffered as a result of financing a new vehicle. It seems my psyche had a few things to say to me — the person who, for the first time in 45 years, decided to take a pass on second-hand junkers, and go for the shine, and the heated seats, and, you know, the NOT-breaking-down-anytime-soon special feature — things to say, like, “What kind of person ARE you? Are you CRAZY? I don’t even KNOW you anymore you weird, little, middle-aged, middle-class consumer.”
There was my continuing struggle to cut sugar and booze out of my life, which really is a challenge that goes far, far beyond merely giving up a substance that I like the taste of. Apparently, it involves what feels like the severing of deep emotional connections, turning my back on a part of myself, erasing a section of my identity. Will I lose friends over this? Will I ever have another energetic conversation filled with amazing ideas?? How am I supposed to deal with this??? And other such dramatics.
Then there was the not-funny-at-all anxiety problem that my poor pup recently developed. I watched helplessly, at a recent dinner party we hosted, as she ran around the house, in and out of every room, panting excessively, scratching in corners and under chairs, desperately trying to find a safe place to crawl into, to escape the fear she felt over the noise my guests were making. And I wanted to do something, ANYTHING, to help ease her anxiety. Because I knew exactly how she felt.
And, finally, there is this website, and the simple fact that I’ve officially started my photography business, and have, as a result, put myself out there in a way that I’ve never had the courage to do before. That’s been its own little emotional rollercoster of fear and anxiety.
Put together, all these little challenges — which seem so tiny when viewed externally, but are so internally momentous (for very complex, between-the-lines reasons, of course) — remind me of a conversation I had with a friend just before Christmas. She told me that, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, she’d been doing this thing lately where she just picks one word to use as a guide throughout the next 12 months. Just one affirming word to encapsulate and nurture her aspirations for the year. Last year, she chose ‘forward’, and she’d repeat that word to herself whenever things went a little haywire or got a little off track.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what that one word might be for me this year. I couldn’t come up with anything that really resonated, until I thought about this past week’s events, and was suddenly reminded of a concept that George Morrison used to talk about at the old New Actors Workshop in NYC.
He called it ‘containment’: the idea that actors need to learn to contain their roiling emotions, and live inside them, rather than trying to avoid them, shirk them, deny them, (or bury them with booze, or sugar, I suppose). Stay centered and focused within. Block out criticism, stop worrying what others think. Basically stop running from room to room, scratching at the corners, looking for a place to hide.
Instead, just sit.
Contain the fear. Corral the anxiety. Shut off the hydrant flooding the yard in order to increase the pressure on the creative tap in your head.¹
That’s what containment means to me. That’s the word I’ll be using this year.
¹ Robert Frost said this much better than me, though he was talking specifically about writing. His exact words were: “Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes the pressure off the second.”