A long time ago I used my OCD for the wrong reasons. I would do things that never mattered, like making sure the corners of the floor were free of dust, or organizing every piece of mail into filing cabinets, or making homemade cookies, banana bread, etc. to take to take to a church lesson in exchange for a bunch of old school LIKES. I had convinced myself my OCD was being utilized, when in reality no progress was ever being made. No money was coming in for retirement, no future opportunities were being created for my children, no ozone layer was being saved.
That was a prison.
I had to place my OCD elsewhere, on the page, in the world of writing. It never occurred to me my OCD was a gift. I thought it was a curse. Not until now, in the past few years, have I realized just how much my “cursed blessing” is needed in the sometimes overwhelming and competitive craft of storytelling. I can’t explain how it works, but I will try.
Just now I was straightening the kitchen table, removing every small thing that has accumulated on it from the morning’s activities. Four children and one adult, a lot gathers. I can’t think or focus with that much chaos on a blank slate. My wood table is calming only when it smiles back at me. So this is where it starts, the moment I begin to clear the clutter … and it never stops. The desperation for calm seeps into the living room, the bedrooms, the kitchen, etc. My desire for clarity is so imminent my mind begins to wonder into the world I desperately want to be creating on the page.
I’ve learned to not blame others around me for the curse so I avoid “nagging” at all costs. I’ve learned not everyone has the same condition as me, and that expecting others to have it – that feeling of complete suffocation – is truly unfair. A woman who was an only child growing up, who now has five other beings around her, is a DRASTIC jump to say the least. I’ve come a long way. Not in subduing the blasted curse, but in understanding it.
Thoughts wander around in my mind, jumping from one scene to another, to a thought, to another memory. Ideas begin to bubble, ideas I would have never thought of if I had not entered into this “episode.”
THAT’S THE CRAZY PART. Within the curse – lies the nectar.
I quickly jot down the ideas on a napkin, less I lose them (like so often I do) and run back to the task. COMPLETE the task. Swipe the area clean. Every room, every nook and cranny. Except nobody cares. An allusion. But I still CAN’T BREATHE. Like a mission. “The other mission will come later,” I say. I’m now organizing the fridge so the milk jugs line up in a straight line. Groceries, a meal list, the “to-do list” EXPLODES in the midst of organizing and I wonder why no one else feels this anxiety like I do. And I realize in that moment, of frustration and slight judgement, I CAN NOT condemn them. If I don’t complete the tasks my boiling level becomes so great I will enter into an explosion of artistic frustration where the sweet mama turns biting and unpleasant. Nobody wants to be around a grumpy Anna.
I look around at my PEACE, grab my hot drink and SIT DOWN.
The episode continues on, into the pages I write. I sit with one page for hours to get it to read like BUTTER. Smooth and effortless. I force myself to move on, to gain PROGRESS. (I didn’t quit making banana bread for nothing!) I force myself to ignore the list. If the house burns down THEY WILL FIND A WAY out without me.
The story takes precedence. Finally.
Without writing, I fear my condition would only worsen. That my talent/curse would be applied to nothingness, as it was before, and I would feel as if I’m going against the grain in the universe. Maybe nobody will read what I have written, just like no one saw the corners of my clean floor – but at least this time around my mind has a place of order and purpose.
Just as the words on my French bag read, “L’art sauvera le monde.”
I am one with the force, and the force is with me.
Art WILL save the world.
x and tales,