Life - The Director's Cut

I’m never really here, only briefly through moments of short-lived clarity. I see and appreciate the good things but as if they are only copies of the Devine originals as everything lacks the vibrant buzz it used to have. Something else has taken over, an inner noise that is neither sensational nor inspiring. It is as if I have a disgruntled and dissatisfied entity living within me. My perception seems tainted yet heightened to the point where other people’s negative moods spill on to me and effect me as if they were my own. I sense tense vibes like a tracker senses presence from foot tracks left in the dirt.

An inner frustration persists at my conscious, robbing me of any ability to settle and be still and relax. Fear of wasting the day, wasting the night, wasting my life encourages me to drive, walk, run from one side of the city to another looking to quench an everlasting thirst for any raw happy experience.

I lie on the beach and I enjoy it but I think I will look back more fondly on the memory of the experience of being here rather than this very moment, lying in the warm sun with sand at my toes, thinking incessant and irrelevant things.

It is as if the mind is being used at a hundred-percent capacity when it retrieves an old memory so you only experience the memory. For a short moment as the mental movie is playing there is no more mind space to judge, criticise or comment on the memory being played. It is because of this I feel my memories possess more stillness, more peace, more clarity than the actual moment itself. They are a much less complex representation of a moment without all the unnecessary noise and judgement that stalks me during the moment itself.

Now it has become as if I am wandering looking for experiences to add to my memory bank to be edited and retrieved later without the present associated mental noise, as if my memories are digitally remastered versions of an old show real. Like a tourist who views his holiday through the viewfinder of his camcorder I too am viewing my present life in retrospect but as it happens.

Yet sometimes my memory becomes the director’s cut as it hijacks my experiences and puts a negative spin on them, choosing and editing particular snippets to make a moment totally different to the actual event when I relive it in my head. This director knows his target audience well and plays on my fears, paranoia and insecurity as he selects particular takes on things to play on my emotion.

I sit in the cafe, trying to be still and calm, sitting in the sun and enjoying the view. But I want to leave… Where to? I don’t know, but I force myself to sit here longer, I force the experience for fear of regret? Maybe but perhaps to finish the mental movies of ‘me enjoying the sun and a coffee’ or ‘me enjoying the beach on a summer’s day’. What does this mean? I am the star of these mental films yet prefer to watch them rather than enjoy acting out the scene as it happens.

They say people who suffer from depression should force themselves to do things they used to enjoy and eventually the enjoyment will come back. I ask when is this moment? When will I stop acting out a fun life I don’t always feel inside? When will I be able to put down the camcorder and enjoy the moment whether it’s captured on tape or not?
I am still waiting, waiting to start living when… Why not today, why not now? Stress and anxiety buzz around my head as not only am I inundated by mental movies of actual events but those of fictitious possible future situations, worst case scenarios if you like. That is what anxiety really is, fear of a possible future situation or predicament. The anxiety however is caused by the mental movie in your head that is poorly written, directed and acted but to you it is a real possible future situation.
Anxiety is very rarely in the present. When it is encountered in the present moment and not that of fictitious mental movies, your body takes over through fight or flight and you just deal with it. You don’t think, ponder, wonder nor do you rehearse scripts in your head of things you might want to say to people, or re run certain situations from every different angle until you’re exhausted, you just do what is needed. This is why people who suffer great tragedy often seem calm in stressful situations and know what to do.

I experienced this myself when working for Melbourne’s triple zero police emergency centre. I would get some calls in which people would be hysterical and screaming. However when the police arrived on scene they would find that in fact the situation was highly exaggerated by the person who called it in and at best vaguely resembled the original scenario stated by the hysterical caller at the time. It was the callers who were calm, placid and logical. They would call to report a murder with such absolute matter of fact calmness and rationale that at first I would think it was a prank caller. However these are the ones where the police would arrive on scene to discover a bloody and violent crime. I began to understand this and would shudder as I spoke to these calm, rational and matter of fact callers as they reported to me they had killed their father, mother, lover or friend.

So why is anxiety such a useless and modern day disease? We are so saturated by the media who love embellishing the truth, putting images of war and tragedy on a dramatic soundtrack with a catchy heading that we have begun to do the same to our own lives. We envisage our dramatic life being played out. Something dramatic will happen and afterwards we will drive home rehearsing in our own heads how we will tell the story to others. We get a warped sort of excitement about break the news story ‘what just happened to me’.

This is depression, lack of interest, lack of energy, lack of being able to connect with positive vibes and situations. A bitter, twisted and resentful director sits in your head calling the shots putting a negative spin on everything to increase the drama. Just don’t get addicted to it. Conflict is, after all, the centre of drama and the source of most entertainment we see every day. Is this creating a culture where we are addicted to drama to the point we act it out, even fictitiously, in our own head? Do we view life as not entertaining if there’s no drama? I think it gets to a point where we actually identify with drama and connect with it on a deep unconscious level.

We enjoy it’s entertainment and the spectrum of emotion it evokes, we enjoy the catharsis we go through at the end of it and it all becomes ‘normal’ when in actual fact it’s not, well it never used to be, but maybe now it is. Maybe with depression being one of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses, this is in fact the new world that we live in, hanging in suspense everyday waiting for the next episode as we play the ‘next week in my life’ teasers in our head.

Life - The Director's Cut

Ben Farrell

Balmain, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

An insight into the modern mind… An exploration of our collective consciousness.

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