Human Nature

23 June 2021

I’m unmotivated, anxious, gloomy. My self-esteem is low. I feel ugly, greasy, fat, and dry. Things aren’t panning out the way I hoped they would in terms of this project. Mostly it has to do with the typing paralysis. I’m afraid to start typing, editing, and rereading everything I’ve written up to this point and realizing it’s just a bunch of pointless nonsense.

Like who am I to complain about anything? Sure, I’ve been through things, but I’ve never been unwillingly starving. That I did on purpose, which is a privilege in itself. I didn’t grow up that poor. Only slightly poor. My abusive ex-boyfriend never put me in the hospital, only threatened to.

I have a support system. It’s small, but strong. If I needed help, there would be people there to help me.

I might feel fat, but I’m not fat. I might feel ugly, but I’m not ugly. I may feel worthless and stupid, but I know I’m wrong. The thoughts are pervasive, their annoyance amplified by the fact that none of them are accurate. That I know it deep down, but just somehow can’t accept it.

In an attempt to pull myself out of my idiotically vain and unimportant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-the-universe state, I drove to the Morton Arboretum by myself yesterday to see an art exhibit called Human+Nature by Daniel Popper. Seems like small potatoes, but it was a big deal for me.

The entire way there I lowered the volume of my music every time I had to stop so I could listen to the sound the brakes made and worry incessantly that something was going to fall off the car and I’d be stranded far from home and the police would come like last time and tell me the car would have to be police towed and impounded because it was blocking traffic so not only would I have to pay to get my car fixed but also for the tow and the impound.


I got there and back just fine.

My anxiety continued once I got there. I thought going on a weekday would save me from the crowds. I can’t imagine what the place looks like on the weekends. I had to drive a long way to find parking and ended up in a patch of grass. I pulled the emergency brake up and imagined myself forgetting to put it down before I left, fucking up my car even more.

I had to pee immediately, so I looked for a bathroom and found one pretty quickly near a shelter overrun by day campers. In the bathroom, a counselor no older than twenty-five washed out bowls in the sink, and for a fleeting moment I thought I might enjoy doing that. I had the feeling again later on when I passed by a different counselor walking side by side with a young boy whose eyes were filled with sincerity as he listened to her explain the house hunting process. He looked like he actually gave a shit, which I thought was weird but also kind of nice.

I didn’t ask for a map at the gate and didn’t try looking for one, so after I peed I just started wandering around looking for the sculptures scattered across the grounds.

I wasn’t walking for long before I realized I actually had no idea where I was parked, so even though I just got there I was already worried I’d never leave. It wouldn’t be a bad place to die, but I needed to be home by 4 to walk Bubba.

I met a nice squirrel. He got close, but not too close. I talked to him even though we speak different languages, and he tilted his head and listened as closely as the camper from earlier in the day. When a family of four passed by behind me, I wasn’t even embarrassed they might have heard me talking to a squirrel.

There was a pine grove that made me feel some kind of way, just like they always do. The aroma, the bigness that makes me feel both grand and insignificant at the same time. The way the top branches creak like old bones when the wind blows, and the sun shines through the needles in perfectly delicate lines. I love everything about pine groves.

I want to talk about the art but don’t trust myself to do it justice. It affected me the way good art does, so much so that my anxieties dissipated as soon as I saw the first sculpture. I felt compelled to take pictures, but I spent more time staring, phone in my purse, walking around each one and examining the textures, admiring the undeniable hard work that went into creating such beautiful masterpieces. I contemplated my place on the planet and felt a sense of calm despite it.

Here’s a video explaining his inspiration:

If today taught me anything, it’s something I already knew. It’s important to go outside my comfort zone, especially if it’s to seek a new experience. Art? Important as hell, even to those who’d argue otherwise. They may, in fact, be the people who need it most. As for me? I need to learn more about art, see more art, and most importantly, do more art.

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