This week I planned to discuss the concept of commitment. I’m getting close to fulfilling the one I made to the Patch editor, Cassandra Day, back in March. I told her then that I’d write 20 blogs; this is my 19th. However, I came up empty when I searched my dictionaries for inspiration on this word. There's just not that much meat on the bones.
Then it occurred to me that my muses may be quiet because I haven’t kept a commitment to another major project — the book I’m writing. Yes, I finished it earlier this year, and then had to do a rewrite due to copyright issues. I managed to get that done almost two months ago, and I’m now in the revision process. The next steps of editing, cover art, and production are already laid out. Why, then, is it taking me so long? Why do I keep putting it off, when I’m so close to the finish line?
An answer that arises instantly to these questions is, simply, I’ve lost my mojo. OK, there’s the answer then. To me, mojo has always denoted energy, determination, drive, push, the simple ability to get things done. In some ways I equate it with moxie, a word meaning “force of character, determination, or nerve” (per the Oxford English Dictionary); this arose from the name of a soft drink sold in the 1930s.
But mojo is actually defined as a magic charm, talisman or spell. It denotes magic power or influence (OED), not the resoluteness or sense of purpose that I associate with it. The etymology is not clear, but may be the western or central African word moco, which means witchcraft. Words from this region were kept alive in the American deep South by the Gullah people, also known as the Geechee. This makes me wonder if I should take a trip down to Georgia to find a witch doctor to reverse the "lazy" curse that's been laid on me.
Just get myself some magic mojo so I can stick to my guns and finish the task at hand, something I started over a year ago and that I thought I’d have all wrapped up by now. But these reflections didn’t give me any answers to my original query — what happened to the resolve and persistence that I relied on before, the pertinacity that I called up to get all kinds of things done?
I’d been blaming my listlessness on depression, and yet deep inside I knew it wasn't so simple. At my lowest point, I barely brushed my teeth, ate, or got off the couch. I wasn’t like that any more! So what's going on? Right now I'm exploring the concept that changes to my mental machinery may have been caused by various psychiatric medications.
I hope to gain some insight as I learn more about this. It’s been over two years since I took a mix of hypnotics and antidepressants, stimulants and anxiolytics, pain medications, and other odds and ends that were given to me without intentional malice but which clearly — in retrospect — were not necessarily therapeutic and which caused new problems of their own.
Although the thought of this potential harm is daunting, what’s done is done, I’ve got to keep moving. I’m super-cautious now about taking anything to “help” my brain, but am also very aware of the benefit of medications in a variety of human conditions, including mental illness.
Effects can indeed be life-changing and in some cases life-saving. But in my case I cannot shake the image of my psyche as a chunk of Swiss cheese, a block of essence with some holes in it, on whatever basis, for whatever reason. Those "holes" include my inability to experience a full and vibrant emotional life, a lack of drive, and a variety of so-called cognitive deficits such as memory loss and difficulty expressing my thoughts verbally.
Right now, I'm comforted by not placing these issues into a paradigm of unresponsive depression per se. I just look at each problem as is and am hoping to find approaches to creative healing.
So the words that initially arose aren't helping me much — could I look elsewhere again, perhaps to Mother Nature, for answers? As it turns out, this week I was waiting for the post office to deliver a power cord to my laptop, and when I checked the vendor tracking on Thursday, it was listed as “delivered.”
When I called to find out why it wasn’t on my porch, I was told that the carrier didn't feel safe coming up the front steps due to “bees.” What a surprise when I went back outside and found dozens of critters flying low to the ground and across the sidewalk; no wonder he felt threatened.
I discovered they were cicada killer wasps, a species that isn’t aggressive toward humans unless severely provoked. So what message were these newcomers bringing me now, when I was struggling to learn where my energy went and could not find guidance from words?
Wasps are social creatures that construct their underground homes in the spring. They remind us to nurture our dreams, but that we must also build them. Dreams can motivate us, but their fulfillment depends upon solid work.
They tell us to carry out our obligations. Wasps are more active in the late summer and early fall. How appropriate that I’m trying to get the revisions done now! Questions we must answer when wasp appears include whether we are paralyzed in the pursuit of our present goals.
Amen to that! Are we working alone or in groups? We must remember our contribution to the collective. I have the next steps for the book all lined up, everyone's just waiting for me to do my part. Wasps signify the need for organized focus, progress, construction and order. Clearly, they’re here to remind me to keep my nose to the grindstone.
They didn't answer the "why," but I just know they'll stick around until I finish. After all, I'll see them every day when I go out for the mail. Now, all I need is a mojo-master to provide the magic that's needed to go on with the show.