“Useful”

Why do I crave what many others would consider abuse?

Is it for the pain?

The freedom from my own identity that comes from reflexive self-subversion?

Is it for the attention?

Is it to be useful?

Useful. That word resonates with me.

I, the consummate underachiever, useless, lazy. Spending days lying in the sun scribbling into ratty notebooks, crossing my legs. Hunched over the piano lost in a modal trance, humming to myself. Playing in the dark.

Everyone wants to tell us how to use our gifts, what’s practical, applicable. If it makes money, keeps the heat on, keeps us fed, it’s a worthy use of our abilities. If it’s not, it’s unworthy, and if we chose to exercise our gifts in this fashion, we are therefore unworthy ourselves. Simple math, really.

And if you’re not built right, if your brain yearns to waste time on abstraction, the pursuit of beauty, the worship of truth, then to hell with you.

Yet now it gives me a thrill to sweep the floor and grab a soda for everyone. The appeal of all sorts of service grows to me with each passing day. When potential partners sussed out my kink, I once laughed at the notion of doing housework being a turn-on or something at held great emotional appeal. Now I’m not so sure – and I certainly can’t laugh at it.

Are these gestures a shadow twin to some void in my psyche? Am I trying to make up for all the shame I felt as a young artist pursing my passions?

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