I have always suffered from imsomnia to some extent, although to be precise it is more the case of a mind that prefers to do its heavy work at 3 AM. Tonight though it is different, tonight I woke up in a cold sweat after two hours of quality sleep, terrified. What woke me was a flavour of fear that I thought I had seen the last of; something familiar from all those years ago as a twenty something racked with uncertainties for the future and insecurities about how I might fit into this world. I hated that.
My old strategy used to involve hours of planning and scheming, trying to salvage any self esteem that I thought was at risk, and eventually falling asleep around dawn in a state of exhaustion; only to do nothing at all about it the next day. You might conclude that this was a stupid strategy, but it had the effect of relegating the process to a formula and making uncertainty a familiar state, it made sure that I didn't make foolish life choices in a state of panic. And so in time the phenomenon dwindled as I became less sensitive to such abstract doubts, and the world actually seemed to provide a place for me to fit.
And this is it, a place to fit. Tonight I woke up in a cold sweat thinking the last thirty five years has just been a run of good luck, and now the world is different. Not surprising really, a career in the arts is exactly what it says it is; a career, as in a form of brownian motion from one opportunity to another, a commission here, some funding there, an interview, some royalties and resale rights. It is an industry which demands that you re-invent it almost on a weekly basis, it thrives on novelty. It is a myth that you can plan a trajetory in the arts, anything it offers that appears like job security is undoubtedly a trap, unless you are very very lucky. I knew this when I started out and nothing has disproved it.
I know why I have been visited by the old fear. Work is drying up. For the first time since I began I have had no income for over 3 months. The cupboards are bare and bills can't be paid. So here I am, measuring myself to see where I fit in the world, making ludicrous plans based on panic, that if I have any sense at all, I will ignore in the morning.
But there is a niggling voice in my head reminding me that a hedgehog has a strategy that has served it well for millenia, it rolls itself into a spiky ball when threatened. A perfect strategy until a car comes along.