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  • Writer's pictureKerry Chambers

The Saboteur: Lounging on the Lily Pad Two Years On

This blog is two years old. What is proving to be the most expensive diary I have ever owned, I avoided an article conception simply because it overwhelmed me. Should I list something, should I review something; that meant watching something and I couldn’t recall anything. Series that I have watched were great but felt out of place – what I felt was all I had left, no remnants of anything that held the show or the movie together. I don’t understand it.

The Lily Pad (Logo by Megan Chambers)

Two years… The advent failed to come with any sense of accomplishment I assumed I would be capable of feeling by this point in my life. Somehow it's not panned out that way. What I feel is something uncomfortable. It's a lack of anything. This sensation has been in place for some time, one which has been trumped on occasion by brief creative outputs, indulgences short lived and general enjoyment found within living. Yet, day by day, it gets more stifling.

Things I apparently need to succeed in my life goals:

  • Discipline

  • Motivation

  • Confidence

It's quiet clear without any of this that whatever this dream is that I have, that I have believed I have had for the many years I have now inhabited this earth, will be all for nothing. That for the longest time that there was a belief that this was more than just a pipe dream, something concrete and possible seems as much a filthy lie I've told myself as the lie that I can have an original thought at all.

What is original thought? It's often cited as no longer existing. This, I suppose, I can concur, but beyond that, the voice of the individual is what separates writers and should inspire them to grow. Yet with each word I write, each thought I allow to pass through my mind without the insidious virus of self-doubt, over-thinking heaped with a whole slab of laziness to boot, clinging anxiously to each one, I begin to acknowledge that my own twist on that very thing is as much derivative. I simply cannot win. This voice of mine, it has nothing good to say for itself. It's self-involved, nihilistic and lacking in the humour it once prided itself on. A scream without an echo.

For I am frustrated at my own complacency and lack of motivation, and it is such a specific collection of things that must take place, be seen, felt or experienced for me to feel an ounce of motivation. Yet I avoid even those things as though I should be doing something else. I'm at cross-purposes with myself. Even more likely, I'm a saboteur. My life had been compromised by me being in it.

Gotta Knock a Little Harder... Cowboy Bebop (Watanabe, 2001)

I love nothing more than getting lost in a story for hours on end. Be it novels, manga, anime or film, it should be an unadulterated pleasure. When I'm working though my to-watch pile and it doesn't feel like a chore, as though what I am seeing is genuinely great works of fiction, that the world vanishes as much as it swallows me up and into this thing we call living, makes me alive in the very definition, it totally uproots me. The world is so ugly. It's the stories and the connections, the distances and the longing, it shapes reality that can be so very stunning. This makes me believe in my own storytelling. With music blaring in my ears - Dandy in Love, Gekkou, Von, Blue - lost to soundtracks and songs that score the stories I write, I work away at my inspiration and try to shape something of my own. This consumption of art helps me overcome my inner hesitations and arrive at this site to share my views with confidence on these great stories... that feeling is fantastic.

But I avoid it as much as I crave it. Maybe I hold it up as a mirror sometimes. I'm guiltier of simply avoiding such engagement and stimulation. I turn to the internet where I receive short bursts of pointless joy, which does nothing and leaves me forgetful of whatever I have seen, done or experienced in the immediate hours surrounding it. I'm not Alice down the rabbit hole; way down there where it never makes sense, at least she is challenged, a witness to the incomprehensible. I can barely comprehend an average day.

“I wish I could've lived my life without making any wrong turns. But that's impossible. A path like that doesn't exist. We fail. We trip. We get lost. We make mistakes. And little by little, one step at a time, we push forward. It's all we can do. On our own two feet.”- Yuki Sohma, Fruits Basket (Takaya, 2006)

I sit at my desk; it is here I eat, I procrastinate, I complain. I'm rotting, wilfully and vehemently. It is a grotesque act of neglect, an attempt to dismantle all that could be worked upon until there is nothing but the Junji Ito style sludge of my remains. From its bubbling brew, like the texture of fermented mushrooms, as it dribbles down the seat upon which I once sat, the muffled sounds of an opinionated, self-entitled crone babbles as though upon the ocean floor.

I never thought myself to be someone to give up, but when I look back on things, I don't know if I see things through to the end with a longevity that one can be proud of. With reckless, nerve-shattering abandon I would throw myself into one thing until there was nothing left and retire to the shadows where I would continue to watch each passing day, waiting for when the sunlight was no longer so blinding, pretending that I was trying to recover my being. Most of the time, I have lived in the shadows because it's very safe there, I can take no form there until there is nothing to see. All the while willing myself to be noticed. A phantom is there, that one can scarcely forget, something that can drag others into my own sphere of dread and fear.

What am I scared of?

This fear is so interwoven with my personal and so-called professional life that I can’t define which one it should be dealt in most. Proof that I don’t' want to live a dual life, I suppose I could see it as such a thing, but to exist as a whole in both areas of living, as genuine and honest as I can be. This in itself scares me. That truth is right there. I want to be me, always. But that means showing me, being me; that's terrifying. Time has cemented that I also don’t like me. There is a version of me who is not me at all that should take the place of the real me, and wipe the floor with all she encounters; well-read, charming and pretty, she fights through her fear and puts herself out there, good-humoured and even better natured. This me, can't. This me is unstable, mercurial, unreasonable, jaded, irritable, insufferable... I have all these opinions and absolutely no faith that I have a leg to stand on with anything that passes my lips because everyone I meet knows better than me. For that I am certain. They are smarter, better informed, whole people who have more right to a voice than me.

“Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.” - Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance (1988)

Maybe I will need to treat this post as a celebration of what I have achieved in this past years, I think it may be needed.

I've written at least one article a month on this blog. I finished a first draft of a romantic comedy novel. I have completed a short story that I would like to find a home for. I would like to pursue a masters in Film next year, so as to possibly find a money-making route for myself in something I claim I love. I do love. When I'm not intimidated by it.

When I reflect on the first incredibly productive months on this blog, during an indefinite lockdown, I battled some, what I now have come to acknowledge, serious mental health issues that could have ended pretty badly. In the midst of that muckiness, under the influence of the mellow of early-days medication and the comfort of no end in sight for the return to normalcy, where I could stay at home every day and watch whatever, find creative and nice ways to spend time with supportive housemates, speak to family when I could for as long as we all wanted... I managed to make this site and talk about stuff I loved. It wasn’t seamless; often things were still hard. But on this blog I was happy. I think.

This space was treated as a portfolio all the while indulging myself; talking about foreign film, anime and writing it was as much fun as it was a release. That got lost along the way. The old posts I made, ranking these great movies I got to see, my master post about filmmakers (Akio Jissôji’s Buddhist Trilogy really did cherry-top that category - it's spoiled me), I can see myself pouring heart and knowledge into it with such enthusiasm. Dare I say it, even with confidence? I could channel my criticism there; meanwhile I began work on that aforementioned novel, all the way back then. Some magic will sprinkle down on myself, and I’ll swoop into that screenwriting software I pay for each month and jot ideas down that I can see with some clarity.

Now I feel like I have no ideas. Not that this is a totally abstract thought, I‘ve had the feeling for far too long, but it subsided. It’s come back. Those thoughts that no one wants to hear about it. I keep dragging everyone in, I let them in, leave the door unlocked, wide open most days and then wonder why my house if full of strangers and people I would rather forget. These people, I need to simply pass and get on with myself. Do what I want. See how that reflects in my output, see where that output goes with sureness. Yet I want to spend no time with me at all. The life I have led leaves me uninspired and embarrassed, what I could write about makes me only more ashamed.

I want to be inspired, not compare. These little things that have formed my life, to wear them as badges of pride instead of something to brush aside when others medals appear so much more worthwhile, meaningful. I want to be able to enjoy Attack on Titan and not think of how incompetent I am that I could not think of that sort of story, ever. I want to forget about the fact that I can’t work a film camera, but can see that opening sequence of Wong Kar-wai’s Days of Being Wild is perfection. I want to read a Haruki Murakami novel and not hate myself for being incapable of writing such a simple sentence that cuts so deep, as defined as my wording is bloated. I want to see what I can do, not what can’t.

An anniversary article that is perhaps outrageously depressing is no way to enter a new tenure as a blog runner. Maybe I just had to purge myself to get realigned. Well… even that feels repetitive and predictable. Enjoy the things I love, live in my head and make something from it – give it flesh and bones. I want to go back to what I liked, and I need to work harder to do that, I think. Be me, endure it. Screw 'fake it until you make it', accept that there is stuff I’m never going to like and work with what I have; life is too hard, too cruel to not have something beautiful come out of it, if this is all there is... well I'm not ready to believe that yet. Underneath it all, there is something; there has to be. If I’m the one holding me back, I need to be the one to move forward. Sabotage my saboteur; she’s asking for it.

What It Means... Violet Evergarden (2018)

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