I took all my emotional pain, the suffering and the heartache, the self-loathing and the little cuts and bruises of the soul that a lifetime can inflict, and I swallowed them, pushing them down, way down, down as far as they would go, to the very bottom of me, all the way down to my feet.
And then I cut off my feet.
I did it as part of an elaborate performance art piece about the nature of human emotional suffering, as a statement about our tendency to avoid facing our troubles even when doing so was to our obvious detriment, about how we here in the twenty-first century are more willing to destroy ourselves utterly, to lose vital parts of our core being, than we are to face the fact that yes, life can be hard, and yes, it can hurt.
And it was a massive success.
The night itself was sold out, and the reviews were uniformly excellent. “He left blood on the stage, and the crowd went wild…” read one particularly strong notice. I couldn’t have been more pleased. And, having no more emotional pain to taint my creative victories, I could finally properly enjoy my artistic success.
It was wonderful. And, for a brief period, I was happy.
Six months later, as a follow up piece, I cut my legs off at the knees. It was widely agreed that this was dull and derivative, and in hindsight it probably was. But it was all I could think to do. I’m not the artist I pretend to be, I suppose, and I couldn’t come up with anything genuinely new.
I had one meaningful moment, though. One statement worth making.
Maybe one day I’ll have another.
Or maybe I only ever had the one in me, and the rest of my life will be spent in slogging mediocrity, struggling in failed attempt after failed attempt to recapture my one long-passed moment of creative relevance.
There are moments when this notion haunts me, when it keeps me up at night, when it fills me with blind, helpless, hopeless panic that I fear will overwhelm me.
And when it does, I take that emotional pain, that suffering and heartache and self-loathing, and I swallowed it, pushing it down, way down, down as far as it can go, to the very bottom of me.
But, no longer having feet, I find I have nowhere to put it…