Friday, March 7, 2014

A Comment I Wrote

…The way I see it, this is my little flicker of existence in the vastness of all time and space. I did not live before, and I won't live again (save in certain very odd theoretical outcomes, but even then it wouldn't really be "me" per se). And I am not a rock or a tree or an amoeba. I'm not an elephant or a wolf or a skink. Out of all the things I might have been, it turns out that I am this animated collection of atoms called a human, the product of a simply mind-boggling collection of circumstances, happenstance, random (or at least stochastic) events, accident,—and the seeming nature of the universe. Here I am on this ball of minerals and other elements, with its thin layer of atmosphere, tectonic plates sliding about causing earthquakes and volcanoes as, deep in its center, some 4000 miles below my feet, its core vibrates and burns at pressures so great that the metal is forced to become a solid. And the whole thing is hurtling around a giant nuclear reactor some 93 million miles away. If you started walking and never once rested, it would take you some 4000 years to walk to the sun. And then, all of this, our little solar system, is meanwhile moving about the center of a galaxy with billions upon billions of stars—which of course I learned many years ago, watching Cosmos—and the galaxy is, itself, orbiting a common center with many other galaxies. I mean… Can you imagine it? And here we have relationships with other people just as unique, and fights, and all kinds of feelings, and we move through a world of symbols, our minds filled with thoughts, more or less conscious of our actually being here. There are wars, and tragedies, and sadness, and there are joyful times, triumphs, and great happiness. There is touching someone and feeling her pulse under your fingertips. There is holding someone's hand and feeling his hand squeeze back. There are conversations, dreams, longings, and we are moved to empathy, to action, to further thoughts, to new ideas. Every day, this wonder is there. Sometimes we get ill, or tired, or broken by things, and it all seems so closed up and numb. People die. Sometimes terribly, cruelly, pointlessly. People starve in a universe full of energy (by which no metaphysics is meant). But if you, yourself, have that moment to see the mind-blowing sweep of it all, and take in just what it is you have, the totally impersonal opportunity that is just there to be had, if by chance you happen upon it…. How can one not be taken in by it? To me, it's what motivates me to try and keep trying to be a better person. I want to see others feel better when they are down. I want to feed people when they are hungry. I want to make things better generally. I want to make it more likely that anyone might have that moment. We are poised in the flash of eternity, and it is all we have. And while it is true that everyday life will claim our hours more likely than not, and we will be caught up by all the little details of our personal lives, pitched this way and that by circumstance, and be rendered oblivious by the density of all that holds us captive,—FUCK, you know? FUCKING HELL. It's all still there, and it's everything all at once. And beyond myself I can't but love that I'm here to see it. I mean, I look around at myself and wonder if I'm even supposed to be so lucky. You know what I mean? What a show! And it's reality! That's what I think. …Well, that and a lot of other things….

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Going About It A New Way

It has been awhile since I posted. This is not because I haven't started posts or thought about things I'd like to post, it is because I have been going it the wrong way. As it turns out, when it comes to writing in a blog I am more a Jackson Pollock than a Piet Mondrian. That is, I am apparently less structured, less defined, and what I write about appears perhaps more scattershot and random, but there is method there, and pattern, and meaning.

When I try to write very carefully, clearly defined pieces, I wind up doing one of two things. I either oversimplify, thus reducing the effectiveness and potency of the piece, or I write very long pieces that risk losing any but the long-endurance reader. This is, at least in part, because I grew up reading novels rather than short stories. It is also perhaps because I love language, nuance, explication, and unpacking meaning. The result is that I have been floundering with this blog, uncertain about where to begin or end anything, lost in editing, over-concerned with managing details. We are our own worst critics, as everyone knows, but I am also my own worst publishing house, regularly refusing to commit things to print because, well, this piece is far too long or that piece is short not only in length but also in real content.

Also, I have ADD. Not ADHD, mind you, but ADD. Writing is, for me, a matter of energetic bursts driven by intense focus and interest. So long as I may sustain the fascination with saying whatever it is I'm trying to say, I can sustain the writing. But if I get too bogged down in something I'm having a hard time expressing, then anything can divert me from my course and swallow whatever energy I had remaining. Hours later, staring at what I was previously writing, I see it as if it's a faded, tattered fragment from some previous season. It's very hard to pick it up again. Too, I lack self-confidence. My internal critic is all too happy to savage my efforts. While I am able to recognize that, yes, I am quite capable of writing good prose, it is also true that I am not able to ignore that internal voice saying, "Why do you bother? Nobody is interested in this crap you share."

I used to be a lot more prolific, more daring, more carefree. Stories, screeds, meditations, rants, poetry, vignettes; all flowed from my fingers and into the keyboard as if I was born to write. People were often moved to comment to my writing, telling me that I was very good and, surprised that I wasn't published, where I should be published. The truth is, though, that I was a different person back then. Not a better person, either. Since those years, I have matured considerably, and grown as a person in ways that make me, more often than not, glad I lived to see such change in myself. But I write a lot less, now. The drive is still there, but it is not obsessively insistent. I work, now. I have to work, now. Whatever I might have been as a writer back in the day,—well, it's just gone and done. And that's okay, really. That wasn't to be my life. This life I have now is.

In this life as I live it, there is a real urge to write about what matters to me. I took a fair number of English and journalism classes over the years, and I wrote editorials and music reviews, and I even earned a scholarship for my efforts. All of that experience informed who I am, now. I read a lot of articles within a range of topics that matter to me, but they all distill into a concern with and for humanity. I am drawn toward writing as a form of activism on these topics. I just don't know yet how to really talk about them in a way that adds to the important discussion. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's writing a piece that amounts to chirping "Me, too!" at people. It is not useful to write an opinion piece that basically notes that the findings of the findings are findings according to my findings. You feel me?

My mother taught me that being personable and personal creates an atmosphere wherein people will listen to what you're saying. Anyone can be a jerk spouting opinions. It's an easy road to failure. Nobody actually listens to opinionated jerks. At best, they react in kind. To actually succeed, one needs to share herself openly, be kind, and express her thoughts clearly, cogently, and honestly. Like I'm doing here, I guess you'd say. I mean, that's what I'm trying to do here, anyway.

That is how I need to approach things, and that is how I intend to proceed with this blog. No pontificating. No bloviating or grandstanding. I need to be conversational in tone, and feel free to let the river meander on its course from wellspring to sea, because that is how I will manage to succeed in getting my point across. In a way, that is exactly what I need to do in order to suss out the point I'm really after making.

Thanks for your patience as I learn to be the writer I need to be.