Oh dear, I’ve discovered something which gives me a justifiable reason for hoarding rubbish – it’s called ART! More precisely, it’s crafts. And, to be even more specific, at the moment it’s actually papier mache. Prior to this it was decoupage – I was going to decoupage everything in sight: I still might do so once this obsession has worn off. In fact I can even combine the two things and decoupage my papier mached creations – how great is that?! Well, it would be if I could ever take the plunge and make a start on the bloody thing!
I love making things, but what I seem to love even more is collecting stuff with which to be creative, and obsessively thinking and reading about the activity. I’ve already come up with half a dozen ideas for what to make with this particular craft form, not to mention having rescued numerous materials which would normally get thrown in the recycling bin. I’ve even bought the additional necessary items required to get going (the flour for making the paste, and balloons for the first easy project). All this, plus having deluged myself with research on-line about how to make paste, how to make pulp (how many different recipes for making the same paste and pulp does one person need?!), what techniques to use, and numerous inspirational guidelines for what to make. Noah’s flood was a light shower compared to this!
And yet I continue to look and, in the process, manage to avoid taking the BIG LEAP of having a go myself. It also has the contrary effect of dampening my enthusiasm for the whole idea, as it starts to get more and more complicated - whose advice is the best?; which instructions should I follow?; how am I ever going to be able to make anything like the things I’ve seen created by other people on some of these sites?; what if it doesn’t work?; should I even bother?!
Ah yes, it’s the Cycle Of Doom! It’s the way I approach everything new (and not-so-new) in life, especially when it’s something that’s meant to be enjoyable. It seems to go like this:-
First we have a spark (or conflagration!) of interest in a new idea or activity;
Then the fire gets fuelled by plenty of petrol (meaning I start thinking, reading, talking, and dreaming about it all the time – commonly known as obsessing!);
I “plan” to do it (this is my version of a plan, which means a kind of vague wandering in my mind going over the instructions again and again, and, if required for chosen activity, start buying or hoarding things for it – one of my favourite parts of the whole process!);
And then I procrastinate about making a start, as I worry about how and where to begin, what the end result will be like, whether I can actually do it, whether I’ve understood the instructions properly, what a waste of materials it will be if I get it wrong, what will I do with it if I get it right, where will I house all my creative efforts (having, as I do, very little space to spare, and visualising being snowed under in an avalanche of solidified paper!), what will I do instead of this if I discover that I either don’t enjoy it or am useless at it, and what will I do for my next project if I ever get this one finished! As you may have noticed from my list of worries there’s no logical progression from one to another, and they generally all descend on me together – it’s like being mugged by a bunch of dufflepuds! (For amplification please read ‘The Voyage Of The Dawntreader’ by C S Lewis.);
By this time I’m almost in a state of meltdown, my whole happiness has become dependent upon the success (or otherwise) of my ability to make a bowl out of a few bits of newspaper stuck onto a balloon: everything else in the world has paled into insignificance, to the point that if I don’t manage to prevail then all the meaning to my life will be lost and, basically, there will remain no reason to go on.
You think I jest? You think I exaggerate? If you’re non-autistic you probably do: if you’re autistic you’ll likely know what I’m talking about and know that I don’t, that it’s no laughing matter .... at least, not while it’s happening!;
Then finally, after reaching a crescendo of anticipatory dread and anxiety (with, if I’m lucky, possibly a smidgeon of excitement lurking guiltily in the background!), the magic moment materialises and I take the plunge. Well, actually, it’s more like dipping a toe timorously in the water, in case something hideous is hiding ready to leap out and get me – like, perhaps, an unforeseen bout of enthusiasm!
So, there’s the Cycle: and here’s the really thrilling thing – I get to go through it with every single project I undertake! Yes, every time I come to the end of making one article I have the great good fortune to have to endure the exact same process, with no omissions, for the next creation. There’s no “once you’ve taken the plunge the first time, the next will be easier” for me. No: I’m always wary of sticking my toe in the water, even when it’s the same water and I’ve been keeping a check on it to make sure that no-one changes it or introduces something untoward during a moment when I might have been off my guard – people are like that, you know, always wanting to tweak things!
BREAKING NEWS!!! AUTISTIC WOMAN TAKES PLUNGE INTO PAPIER MACHE!!!
Not literally, of course, but yes I have made a start and, in the attempt, braved the Cycle of Doom 2 – The Revenge! Yes, this is where, having survived the first, I’m hit by the Second Wave of Doom – very similar to the original, with just slight modifications to take into account the fact that I’m now doing, rather than just thinking about doing, whichever activity it is that I’m trying to avoid!
I’ve also discovered that I can’t blow up a balloon! Seriously: I have seemingly forgotten how to do it. The instructions, simple as they are, just don’t compute. I know I used to be able to do it, but it seems that, as with all things connected with being an Asperger, if I don’t keep up a consistent practise then, for some bizarre reason, I forget how to do it (I swear I’d forget how to breathe properly if I didn’t have to think about it for yoga!). And since balloon-blowing hasn’t played much part in my life, not really being a necessary skill for living (unless you have children, are one of those balloon artists who make strange shapes out of them for a living, or do papier bloody mache!), the technique has deserted me. Which is a bit of a bugger considering that it now appears to be a requisite for my newly-acquired interest in the paper mashing arts. I’ll just have to buy a balloon pump – it’s either that or go around asking people if they can blow up a balloon for me; and then I’d have to explain to them that I don’t mean that I want them to use an explosive to blast the thing to smithereens – just in case they’re literal too!
So I’ve ended up having to use a bowl to make, of all things, a bowl! And I’ve also ended up having to dispense with most of the ‘rubbish’ that I’d managed to accumulate in the space of a week because it turns out to be not very useful. This should come as no surprise, really, as I also have an innate ability for being incapable of knowing what’s important and what isn’t, which translates as being able to dispense with what matters whilst holding on like a limpet to what doesn’t! So I think that, in an attempt to copy the Egyptians, I shall have all of my most treasured worldly goods buried with me to take into the afterlife – which means that I’ll be surrounded by papier mache sculptures and, rather than bury me, someone will just need to strike a match and I’ll go up in flames. Performance art!
"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.
"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."
From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama
"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."