It’s interesting that something so slender and negligible could be so important. After all, how many times have you walked into a hall and thought, “Wow! Look at that pillar”? Well, unless you’re here.
Other than the foundation, pillars are the next most important part of a building. Though, trying to emphasize the significance of pillars in a building is like beating a dead horse, trying to get a reaction, so let’s leave it at – Buildings need pillars.
People also need pillars.
The recent death of famed comedian, Robin Williams, was a horrible reinforcement of the tragic stereotype. Which is just a sad narrative. Creative types aren’t suicidal. Yes, we’re prone to fits of depression and angst but that doesn’t mean we’re meant to consider the business end of gun. What’s more sad is that no one even considered the possibility of him ending his own life. Which is paradoxical. Headline: Funny man Robin Williams commits suicide.
No crying over spilt milk though. He’ll be missed. But what can you as a creative person do?
Pillars. Everyone needs one. (I know I’m sounding like an ad).
When I say pillars, I’m referring to support systems by the way. I’m guessing you’ve heard of them.
In my village, there’s a custom (as in all of Yoruba land). A nursing mother usually has her siblings come over to help with caring for the newborn. The responsibility of a baby can be overwhelming for a first time mother. Coupled with the pain of childbirth and the impending naming ceremony, the woman usually has her hands full.
Juggling cooking, entertaining guests, cleaning house, as well as caring for the baby are responsibilities that would overwhelm any woman. The dad does something, can’t think of any now but he probably does, but the woman does most of the heavy lifting. So, having people come over to help is a lifesaver. It may not look like what you were taught in your blue chip stress management class but that’s actually a support system right there.
The benefits of having a support system are numerous.
Feel like throwing your kids out the window because of their incessant whining and crying. I tell you, those little bundles of joy can be pesky, devious devils. If you’ve not had a baby, you won’t understand the feeling.You need a support system.
Have a 9 to 5, a ‘crazy’ boss and a daily commute the length of the Sahara? No wonder you feel like ending it all. You need a support system.
It’s terrifying how so many people I come across say things like, “I don’t have close friends”. “I’m a loner” etc. They may not be artists, musicians, writers or comedians, but they create one way or the other and everybody gets emotionally overwhelmed now and again.
We all need support systems.
Support systems help with the emotional burden of day to day survival. Suitable candidates you should consider for such roles are people who know how to listen and be in the present. Not someone who updates his/her twitter account every five minutes, even while you’re unloading. We’re talking empathizing, active listeners and loving people. Not drones.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find people who also help with the heavy lifting in your life.
Personally, I have the best support system in the world. My family. A sister who annoys the hell out of me but will be there in a heartbeat when I need her. A mom whose life creed is, Others before me (seriously, the woman is a relentless supporter). And an assortment of friends (benefits of being part of a church community). This really helped me during the last few months when I got several manuscript rejections. Writing life is hazardous; the potholes are rejection slips.
Now, this is important. The moment you find yourself, consciously avoiding your support system, that’s the alarm clock blaring right there. You’re not just depressed. You’re treading the edge of hades, peeking into the abyss. That’s no way to live.
Make that phone call. Make the trip. Get yourself into their mix. Let them get into your head. Get out of yourself and see life; it’s still beautiful, despite your shattered dreams.
And just a parting thought. Life is a two way street. While you’re setting up your pillars, be a pillar to somebody also.
Do you have a support system? Do you have any practical advice for getting one?