Maybe this can help someone struggling with creative burnout as well…
This ain’t a pity party or tea. I’m trying to understand the extraordinary and mundane ways I exhausted my creativity… by way of fasting and Star Wars.
Because… yeah. That’s how I think. And that’s what I do. Over the last 6 months, the topics of fasting and Star Wars have helped me understand my lack of creative drive.
What can I say?
I’m the Sci-Fi Theologian. I look at how the extraordinary and mundane shape life. And now I’m applying that lens to myself.
Let’s start with the blog.
This blog’s genesis, in retrospect, was a last gasp of that creative part of my soul that has been consistently choked by my life and good-intentions-that-transformed-into-bad-decisions. And now, my creativity is nearly dead from spiritual asphyxiation.
I am still not sure why I’m publishing this. I honestly didn’t write this particular post for sympathy or to even publicize my problems. Everyone has problems. But writing and editing this particular blog over the last 6 months has been therapeutic and clarifying. I’m just trying to work thru and express myself–but I’m not trying to explain myself to anyone. Maybe this can help somebody who is struggling with creative burnout as well. All I can say is that I feel compelled to share for some reason.
This blog was a place where the mundane and the extraordinary were to collide in interesting ways. I needed a space to let that part of me out–just like I need a space to let the musical part of me out… but in a cruel twist of irony, I’ve participated in the near annihilation of my creativity in mundane and extraordinary ways.
I don’t think this is the end of the blog. I hope not. But I don’t know what remains of my creative spark. What used to take hours to write, now takes days, even weeks. My creative stamina is at an all-time low. It’s been tough to work on music… and that’s… that’s never been a problem before. That fact alone has got me concerned.
Routinely, I look at the WordPress icon on my phone and a mixture of regret, anger, and apathy invades. Maybe I am writing to see if this is still viable… if the creative part of me is still somewhere inside of me… or if I have allowed others, obligations, and opposition to use this part of me up so much that I have nothing left for myself.
So, I’ve been fasting… quietly and at times openly… trying to find… my inner
(That never gets old)
Spirit and matter often interrelate.
During Lent–this year of 2019 has been Lenten–I’m trying to find that spark–I’m trying to find myself by fasting… and then I remembered the wilderness… particularly Mark’s stripped down version of the wilderness. From the perspective of the synoptic gospels, the wilderness is an important complement to fasting. Yeah: Fasting + Wilderness = 2x + 4y + 3z. And x, y, and z are unknown quantities of good, evil, and undomesticated miscellany.
In order to prepare himself and get clarity on his mission, project, and ministry, Jesus was led by the Spirit to fast. But Jesus didn’t fast at his house or around his peeps. He wasn’t chilling in Nazareth or Capernaum. Bruh went to the wilderness.
When Jesus went into his 40-day sojourn into the wilderness… when he fasted for 40 days… when Jesus was with wild, untamed beasts–beasts no human can domesticate or control–because there are realities in this world that have nothing to do with us but impact us just the same… when he spent forty days with the slanderer-accuser, who nitpicks and brings charges dripped in half-truths… charges that are real even though they are false as hell... when the Spirit, which commissioned Jesus at Baptism, shot him out of a cannon into some Palestinian countryside… That story… that moment of Fasting + Wilderness truly represents the struggle we face in the mundane and extraordinary.
The mundane, stock moments of life have transcendent qualities. And transcendence cannot sustain itself without some connection to the mundane. Rarely, if ever, are they truly separate. Spirit and matter often interrelate, and that interrelation is definitely present when we fast. Stomach and spirit are not completely separate.
Life can coordinate and choreograph some killer routines at our expense, if we are not careful.
Sometimes our mundane lives can rip transcendent holes in our purpose.
And I was using well-meaning, but in the long run, idolatrous–no, be more consistent with the words JoDavid–I think I was using transcendent idols to give my mundane life purpose. And that, my brothers and sisters, leads to the inevitable clusterfuuuuuu…
I’m in the wilderness. Shaka when the walls fell.
I thought I started fasting this year, but my fast this year was conscious and voluntary. Paradoxically, this year’s fast revealed that I’ve been unconsciously fasting from myself for years and didn’t even recognize it. For years. For over a decade. This long-standing fast wasn’t born of Spirit. It was born of fear/distrust of self and lack of self-awareness. Maybe you’ve been fasting from yourself like this too. Maybe it started off Spirit-led but descended into something else, something destructive and not edifying. God desires relationship with us, so losing our connection to ourselves by way of fasting… that’s not what God intends. However, if you read scripture long enough or just do a quick reflection on human history, you’ll understand that blessings of God and practices of spiritual discipline often go sideways.
Ask the Garden of Eden if the blessings of God can go sideways.
Ask the Promised Land.
Ask a fast.￼
A fast is a fast though, whether it’s born of Spirit, flesh, fear, or randomness. And once it begins… Wild Beasts and the Slanderer-Accuser be like…
Looking at you like you small. Coming for your sammiches, CD player, toilet paper… coming for err’thang and taking it back to the 5th Flo’.
…and if you ain’t careful… if you let your guard down for a season, for an hour, for a second, for a minute–if you let your guard down then prepare to have Slanderer and the Gang get at you like…
GIFs notwithstanding, I’m not playing. Life can coordinate and choreograph some killer routines at our expense, if we are not careful. But we wanna be bad… and won’t even see that we’re somehow enthusiastically dancing to the tune of our decimation.
Thank God for the Spirit, which has been granting me clarity and the ability to sift through the many voices of the wild… but though I’m hearing the Spirit, I’m also awakening to the truth: my mind, heart, and body display the signs deep and thorough burnout.
“And after the fast, he was famished.”
Indeed. This blog took 6 months to write.
I need some angelic attention. I need some refreshing. Help, Lord. I need you. I must and will break this unholy and self-annihilating fast. And Lord, if anyone reading this is going through the same, I pray you empower and assist them as well.
When Luke met Vader in Empire Strikes Back, we had already seen in the caves of Dagobah, that he was really meeting himself–not just his father. In motifs that repeat across culture and time, Luke was like Jesus; Dagobah was the wilderness; Yoda was an embodiment the Spirit; wild, untamed animals roamed; and the cave was where the slanderer-accuser dwelled.
Here’s the thing though. A Jedi and Sith, Luke and Vader, are both strong in the Force. But being strong in the Force isn’t enough… having a call, an anointing, and great talent isn’t enough… because when fear, lack of self-worth, aggression, arrogance, and greed enter… even the Force can be dominated by something else. Even the calling can be subjected to other forces.
This is why a fast born of the Spirit is so important. A Spirit-led fast grants self-discipline, self-knowledge, and God-knowledge so that the call can maintain its integrity in the midst of evil, randomness, and distraction. But a fast born of fear and lack of self-care leads to self-annihilation. And self-annihilation yields more than one body count… it will inevitably harm those around you as well. You might even chop your son’s arm off after you repeatedly torture and freeze Han Solo in carbonite.
Be careful, brothers and sisters. Be careful what we let mediate the calls upon our lives, lest we become more machines than human–lest we lose our humanity and ourselves.
But we–yes, even I—can be reclaimed.
It’s gonna take some time tho…
But it’s gonna be ok. I’m trusting in the Lord. And I’m gonna get it back. I’m gonna find that spark again. I’m sowing in tears, but shall reap at harvest time. I will rejoice with God when the Spirit helps me locate, reactivate, and augment the creative sides of me. That spark shall become a constellation once more. As God reminded me through my Bishop: I got some more sheaves to bring in.
Soon I’ll be dual-wielding green and purple lightsabers again. But unlike before, I won’t be wielding them blindly and unsustainably. Nah. It’s gonna be with purpose and perspective. And I’ll fast once more too, but the fast shall begin and end with the Spirit.
Sho’nuff and amen.
Return of the Sci-Fi (Theologian)
Faith (Trust and Believe)
© M. J. Sales 2019