The Show Must Go On

Intent is magic.

We like to talk about that a lot; that intent is key to formulating good magic, that it won’t work without intent.

This isn’t really true. Sometimes it’s true, but sometimes it’s not — like with folk magic.

And I think magic can go any which way, no matter the intent.

For example, I don’t think Freddie Mercury intended for The Show Must Go On to be, specifically, about continuing on in the face of complete burn-out, about continuing doing your adult life tasks even though all you want to do is lie down in a hole and be forgotten about, about feeling that adult life crush your soul to absolute death and not knowing what to do about it except put on your game face and get back on stage and hope to gods you drop dead in the middle of your performance.

Hold the line, does anybody want to take it anymore?
The show must go on.

I think his intent was more about that game face in the face of certain, unasked-for death.

I don’t know; I can’t know what he thought. I have ideas of what he intended with the song. But whatever he intended, that’s what the song is for me right now.

It’s the anthem to my hollowed out shell of a person.

The flame is gone. It’s charred, burned within. Just black and tarry flesh, no evidence of the fire that used to burn in my soul.

I reached a breaking point. The wall. Whatever you want to call it. I broke, and now the person doing all these things? I don’t know that person.

According to my mother, this happened to me once before — and actually, once she told me about it, my memories stirred to life. I was in grade school and we were in the midst of the divorce…not that that narrows the timeline for a divorce that lasted over a decade. My teacher came to her and told her she thought it’d be best if I were just not expected to do anything for a while. If I could just…be.

Mom was supportive of this idea but terrified of what that would do to another custody battle. The compromise was all I was expected to do was read every day.

So I did. For 6 weeks. And then I was back to myself. I wanted to do the homework again.

I’d burned out.

But now there’s no person who takes cares of the vagaries of adult living, all the necessaries that must be done every day for our lives to go on, for me. It’s me. I can’t ask my husband to take it on and he wouldn’t be able to anyway. I can’t ask my mom to take it on, and again, she wouldn’t be able to.

I have a host of things I must do, and I alone can do them.

So I don’t get to burn out.

On and on, does anybody know what we are living for?

I was so ready for October. So ready for my favourite month of the year. I had it all planned out. I was going to post questions in the weeks leading up to Samhain that were related to the things I was exploring for Samhain Advent. I was going to do Samhain Advent. I was going to volunteer for the Writers’ Fest and hang out with my mom and get a ton of writing done. After, I’d come home and clean my house and decorate for my favourite holiday. And maybe I’d actually go out and do something tonight.

Instead of invigorating me, the flame of this month set me alight and let me burn down to ashes.

I managed one week of questions for Samhain Advent. Then, somewhat hilariously, during the week of Cycles my annual volunteer job at the Writers’ Fest just…tired me out beyond recognition. I got almost no writing done (2 poems), and by the end of the week I was thinking about just walking into the ocean with stones in my pockets.

I thought I was just burned out on volunteering in general, but as the days went past after the fest was over, I realised it was much worse than that. I couldn’t summon excitement for anything, nor any motivation to do anything.

Showering every day has been a struggle. So has getting dressed, or feeding myself.

Yet somehow I needed to work enough hours to make rent. Somehow I needed to write things for this blog and for my Everyday Magic blog and the Patreon attached to it, before the guilt ate me alive.

In the past guilt has been a motivator for me. But right now my motivator chip isn’t just burned out, it’s gone. It got so hot it fucking vaporized.

So the month quickly slipped away from me, and all I managed was the bare minimum: paid hours, so we can keep a roof over our heads.

Some small pieces of myself have returned this week. I’ve felt joy and excitement, namely over a new keyboard my husband bought me when mine burned out. (Following in my footsteps, no doubt. It was about my age too.)  The new keyboard is with with rainbow backlights, so it reminds me of unicorns. Aesthetics are important to me. They make me feel good things.

But I didn’t go to Samhain tonight with the local witch crew, though I was invited. I couldn’t face up dealing with people that much. Especially not after running errands today, and with the volunteer thank you party on Thursday. That’s almost too much for a week when I’m this burned out.

I don’t know what I’m going to do for Samhain. It won’t be tonight, that’s for sure. I think…I think that feels okay, though. I’m realizing I like October 31st to be reserved for secular Halloween fun, and that the first week of November feels more like the appropriate time for Samhain for me.

Possibly it has something to do with growing up celebrating Dia De Los Muertos, leaving out food for the ancestors every year.

So this week for Samhain…I’m trying to find the key I lost. I’m trying to get back to the idea I settled on for the last week of Samhain Advent, and never got to: laughter.

There has to be some joy I can wring out of life right now. Even if it doesn’t rekindle my flame; even if it’s just a brief flicker of a flashlight in the dark. It has to be enough.

And if that means binge-watching movies or listening to The Show Must Go On on repeat to bolster myself for what must be done…then that’s what it means.

No one told me being an adult would be this shitty. I don’t think I would have been in such a hurry to grow up if I’d known.

I have to find the will to carry on.

1 Comment

  1. I have said before that “The Show Must Go On” is the most powerful anti-death spell ever made.

    I don’t think this means it has to be exclusively targeted at “death from illness” like in its original context. I think it’s a spell directed at all forces that grind us down and try to erase us.

    And Freddie Mercury always did say that he wanted his fans to be able to interpret his songs the way they liked.

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