Discover more from stem
no time to waste
on the generative tension of a distracted mind
A day with no obligations is bliss. A day with no obligations is also dreadful. Most days off, i wake up to the oyster world a neurodivergent ouroboros. I can explain, it’s how I sometimes imagine ADHD as an allegory: a serpent biting its tail. Except the snake is also thinking about doing laundry, pleasure, going for a walk, making punjene paprike, emailing you back, aging and dying… until 5 hours go by and some of those things have been done with an absolutely chaotic sensibility. Like a real life version of “name one thing in this photo.” Most of the time, i end up precisely where i began.
That distracted vibration is normal to me now, and i appreciate the privilege of trying to find ways to mediate without pharmacological aid. What stings the most is that ADHD symptoms also manifest in the emotional body. Rejection sensitive dysphoria feels like an irrational fear of embarrassment, highly compromised self esteem, and obsessive thoughts about how we are perceived by others. Texting can be draining because i filter messages through an aloof tone. I am not on instagram because i am a sponge, i cannot engage without anxious attachment. being sensitive to perceived rejection feels like time folding to a past version of myself.
Amanda Ross-Ho. Untitled Timepiece (A CLEARLY ERRONEOUS HOLDING), 2017. Gesso, silkscreen, acrylic, gouache, coffee, wine, and graphite on canvas.
My friend Jane facilitates transformation through a concept: we do not have one inner child, we have many (toddlers to teenagers), and all of them have needs that deserve to be met. She says that our current adult selves have a responsibility to show up as advocates for our inner children, and that every response that we’ve labeled as “bad” has an alternate narrative. We can re-story a precise bodied experience, moving from regressive patterns that no longer serve us toward an expansion into a more healed expression of ourselves. Fear of abandonment as deeply loving, anger as passion, hiding from conflict as an excellent survival skill. She intuits that our adult selves have the capacity to integrate what our child selves could not. She facilitates this form of self parenting as a modality to wellness, as a practice of coming home to looking within.
The ouroboros is symbolic of endless return, the gestalt of life and death. In traditions of alchemy, it refers to a world soul, or perhaps the idea of a cosmic We. The circle serpent can also mean the meeting of the conscious and unconscious mind, or the overlap of paradox. This imagery spans across ancient cultures, seen in such traditional beings as the Toltec’s Quetzalcoatl and Norse’s Jörmungandr. Egyptologist Jan Assmann describes the symbol as “referring to the mystery of cyclical time, which flows back into itself.” I am curious about the more literal symbolic translation of eating one’s self, or of self poisoning. in many cultures, poison is valuable, remedial when applied with precise care. It is an ancient Tibetan practice to administer mercury, although only if processed appropriately. And what about poisons released out of unresolved woundedness? My friend Berkeley reminded me that wellness is not something external, it’s already within- we uncover it. Through many lineages of healing we are urged to feel the discomfort of the dark, and to radically address undercurrents as a means of accessing our resiliency. i suppose this process is, too, a form of voluntary intoxication. An appropriate process.
Ana Mendieta. Stills from Alma Silueta en Fuego (Silueta de Cenizas) (Soul Silhouette on Fire (Silhouette Ash), 1975. Super 8 film.
Finding meaning in the serpent’s self cannibalization, however, is harder to swallow. If i think about being scattered and trapped in my neurodivergence, maybe metaphorically eating myself can result in some sweet, empty relief by transcending the physical body. Maybe the closed feedback loop of ADHD is meant to be digested and flow back into itself in order for us to cultivate the capacity to regulate in a meaningful way. The way of moving with the current as opposed to subscribing to myths of linear ascension, order or productivity.
Amanda Ross-Ho. Untitled Timepiece (HARD ERROR), 2017. Gesso, silkscreen, acrylic, gouache, coffee, wine, and graphite on canvas.
Regardless of whether we require chemical support to survive or if we have the privilege to explore a non-drug approach, it is all valid. We are not the problem, for us, the system is flawed. For capitalism, the system thrives. And through daring to be ourselves, engaging in rhythmic contemplation and resisting economies, we are also digesting; transforming energy. We are naturally conspiring against the institution of normalcy. With a distracted mind, aren’t we playing with the edges of time? If we surrender, we can feel it twist and fold and circle back into itself again. Perhaps this could mean that it is impossible to waste.
getting life from:
the most delicious visit with my dear friend Romany who inspires me so much
turning 30 this week and will try to wear hard clothes for the occasion (read: not sweatpants)
The images of my new medicine vessels at Projet Casa taken by Sabrina Jolicoeur :
HUGE thank you to Verre D’Onge who made an exception out of their practice to bring these warped bottles to life.
and THANK YOUUUUU for being here. it’s really humbling to share with you.