Here is the real: Unless I am diligent about my writing–unless I do it every single day–I won’t do it at all. I’ll cheat, cut corners, pretend, make excuses, find other hobbies, act like it doesn’t matter all that much, and flat out sulk. All of these things are easier than putting my butt in my office chair and writing. In fact, I am writing this blog from the kitchen table, because I don’t want to go in there. The work is hard. The not knowing is harder.
This moment represents a small epiphany. Much of what we call writer’s block stems from the moment of not knowing. It is part fear, part frustration, part lack of clear will (though it takes a form of ‘willpower’ to decide to not write and thus not be ‘right’). Not Knowing means sitting down in front of a page and not knowing how to get that first sentence right or not being able to figure out how a chapter should come together. It might mean recognizing plot and thematic holes that are so big that it takes you stepping outside of your stubborness to fix them. It means recognizing that, though writing is oft described as a solitary art, you cannot ever be a great writer on your own and not having the courage to really lean on someone else–instead calling that ‘troubling them with your words and ideas’.
It means being afraid you might suck and not actually being okay with that. It means being afraid that you were good–really good–once and you aren’t that good anymore. It means not knowing how to get back there. It means knowing you can’t go back and thus cannot ever get back there.
Not knowing is the ultimate form of precipice surrender. By that I mean you would rather sit on the precipice of something and not have the answers of what lies beneath so that you can have the comfort of knowing that where you are still allows you to believe in what could be the answer. It is Schrodinger’s Cat.
I have long decided to not know. Still, I know it is time to trust the process.
At the Talishouse the kids are at the end of a month long gulag. Feb 1st their friends are allowed back in the house. The boys lost this privilege because they left the house a constant mess and allowed their friends to do the same and worse. I imposed a stern penalty for the actions and instituted new rules about how to handle friends being over. We will see this weekend how well they do with the new conditions. If it doesn’t go well, the friends go away again.
- Skipped the state of the union. I am burned out on the politics of pointless speeches. You want my vote? Upgrade and secure the electrical grid in a fashion that expands solar and wind.
- Super Bowl Prediction: The Patriots win again. They have this dude named James White who almost never loses games he plays in. That is important because it reflects on the depth of a team designed to create mismatches.
- Wednesday is my fave.
As I prepare for my three week novel class I find myself thinking about how I trained myself to be a ‘constant writer’. The training took. I write ten minutes every day, but I don’t seem to write any more that that as of late. This is not for lack of ideas. I have the beginnings of a million stories in my head and none of the guts to write them. Or patience. Or paycheck. Or desire. Really, it could be any one of those things. Recognizing the relationship between will, desire, and execution is a large part of what I want to teach the class. I want them to be proud of the journey and to remain engaged in it throughout. A finished book is good, but I’ve had just as much fun writing two or three solid chapters.
The difficulty inherent in this class is figuring out how much to share and work on in the 6 hours total I have with this large (20) group of students. I’ll get them there. I have to. It’s what I do.
- My post about existing is helping me come to terms with death. It is also creating perspective for Deja Vu/deja vecu. I experienced a particularly strong moment of that today and thought that this moment did happen in one or more of my parallel existences and serves, in a sense, as a bridge cutting through the inherent time loop. It is a decision point that remains unchanged across realities. In reality it was a dog running across a field, but it felt quite a bit weightier to me.
- Speaking of weight… I’m falling asleep at three in the afternoon trying to write this. It isn’t that I’m bored, its that I have fallen back into unhealthy eating habits–namely taking in one huge meal and not really eating another meal throughout the day. This is one of many symptoms and causes of my girth.
- Kendrick Lamar on why he has so little to say about Trump: I mean, it’s like beating a dead horse. We already know what it is. Are we gonna keep talking about it or are we gonna take action? You just get to a point where you’re tired of talking about it. It weighs you down and it drains your energy when you’re speaking about something or someone that’s completely ridiculous. So, on and off the album, I took it upon myself to take action in my own community. On the record, I made an action to not speak about what’s going on in the world or the places they put us in. Speak on self; reflection of self first. That’s where the initial change will start from.
- To quote another great rapper, “That something that a preacher can’t preach.”
Lately I’ve begun to strongly question the very idea of existence. We are led to believe that existence itself started with a single point of superheated energy that exploded outwards to create the universe. There are theories that this big bang may end, resulting ultimately in a contraction of the universe back to that single point as if it were the in and out breathing of some great beast. Furthermore there are theories that there wasn’t just one big bang but many. It all feels like one of those concepts that are far to large for us to grasp as humans with inherently limited brains. Still, it seems we are going about this idea of existence all wrong. In truth we are looking at the idea of transition to another world vs. the idea of existence itself being a loop. What if when we die we simply return to the start–another big bang all over again?
And in terms of we what are we and why are we? how does existence exist? what holds it? what is the container in which the universe is held? what is it expanding into? The questions are endless and headache building, but they must be asked.
- I am learning to form bad Sunday habits. Bad habits in general, really. I might in fact still be burned out. I also might just be done for good–washed up. I hope not.
I have this theory..
In relationships where the parents are divorced and the kids move back and forth between homes on a schedule there are transition days. During this time the children are forced to deacclimate from one location and reacclimate to the other location and inherent rules. This is why there is a growing movement to allow the children to stay in the home and require the parents to stay there specifically on the days when they have their kids. I don’t agree with this idea. I’m not a fan of transition days, but I’m even less a fan of my life moving entirely around the schedules of my children. It breeds in these children a sense of self-importance that never ever ends well.
Still, there are transition days. For me there are a few each week. One in particular is very taxing. This entire week felt like a transition day, because we went to two major wrestling competitions–regionals and state–within days of each other. So, the kids were off schedule the whole week.
It wore my already tired bones down to a fragile nub. I snapped a few times, needing to banish myself to a corner or a room or take a walk. The entire process wears on everyone involved and on each side of it the solo parent is struggling to make a life for themselves and their kids. It is a hard life and filled with a wealth of pleasures and emotional pitfalls. It is harder than anything else–especially when new partners and new families try to merge, but above all else, its a way of living and a way of finding new happiness.
It was the kid with the sunglasses that finally did it. My phone read 8:34 and 18% charge. The kid was in the hall with a handful of other middle school kids 11 hours into a day that could last up to fifteen. He was dancing through a storm of boredom, fatigue, ego, and testosterone. I could feel it coming off of him in waves. I could smell it on him–on all of them. But he was wearing sunglasses. Indoors.
My boys and I arrived at the meet near 8:30 AM. Many of the other teams had already been there an hour, experience teaching them to get there early enough to grab a good spot. We were filled with excitement and middle school pride. Most of that drained away by 8 PM.
The way a state wrestling meet goes is each weight group competes until all have competed round by round. This is a double elimination set up, with 67 teams. Needless to say this went on forever.
By the time the kid was wearing shades in the hallway it was long past the attention span of anyone. He was puffing out his chest and enjoying a moment of just being a dude. He was also enjoying being the center of the spotlight.
I was enjoying the entire thing less. Smelly boisterous boys are enough when there are three. This was more like 300, and I was not ready.
I have my children four out of the seven days of the week. By all accounts I should be looking for things to do with them, trying to slide myself into their young universe, and possibly scratching at the walls when things get to be too much. None of this is true. In truth we have a routine that is largely dominated by sports, which is to say we have a routine that is largely controlled by someone else’s schedule, which is to say we don’t actually have the kind of time I want with my kids.
School sports take a lot of time. As my eldest shifts into a high school mindset I am starting to recognize how little time I have left to eek out a life with him. With wrestling coming to a close the boys will be shifting into track and field mode. This will take us through April where they ought to get a break but will instead be deep into the 7 on 7 and 5 on 5 football seasons. Those give way to the hot days of summer, but only briefly. We begin to prep for our summer tackle football tourney, which begins in June. Then it will be time for basketball…
Except that is when I expect to pull the plug.
More and more I see in our interactions that this way of life, while fun, is unbalanced. I enjoy sports. I enjoyed being a coach for my kids, and I don’t shy away from the possibility of giving 5 on 5 flag football one last go round with the little one. However, the truth of it is there is not a balance between the sports and the quality home time where we sit and play games and watch movies and gather around the dinner table. We don’t have the sort of life that lends itself to memories of being home. We have routine. We have things to do when sometimes the best thing to have to do is absolutely nothing. I think that is the space in which lasting memories are made. Sure, they’ll remember the tournaments. They should also remember the Beyblading. They should also remember the time we all sat around trying to perfect the coolest way to roll to your feet (it is definitely this one. We figured out how to do it and it was super awesome).
So, the key here is to find balance and in that a deeper happiness that will last.
I watched a dramatization of an alcoholic falling off the wagon. 546 days he lasted. It took a shift of epic proportions to bring him down. Real life is far more fragile. See, 207 or so days ago I broke. I shattered. I recognized that everything that I moved myself towards was hurtling away so fast that I didn’t have any chance to grab hold and pull back. So I let everything drop. Nearly a year later I am still trying to find parts of what I lost.
I lost my motivation. I lost my heart for the things I love. It wasn’t because of her. She may have been the catalyst for self reflection, but she was not to blame. Everything built to it.
So now I am in a space where I appreciate the most important things in my life more, but I also have lost a very vital part of my person–that iron will that allowed me to be so successful in my early life. Honestly, I don’t know how to get it back. In a sense I fell off my own will-wagon and I gotta find a way to get right.
The last time I quit making lists it was because they reminded me of just ho much I didn’t want to do. The time before that was more about redundancy. I’d finished a few lists–first time in my life doing so–and it felt like I slayed a dragon. Once the dragon is dead you don’t go around looking for more, do you?
Apparently yes. The answer is always yes. This is why they are called dragonslayers. Or, productive people in this world. As the last post indicates, I have not been much of a productive person as of late. In truth my universe feels on tilt, with everything sliding into an abyss and me holding on to the one true thing that seems steady–or at least slides less. I’ll be clear: It isn’t a list or even on one.
Still, it is hard to avoid the value of such things. They may be part of the lattice work I need to get my world righted.
When I was young I had all the juice in the world. I could stay up for days. I could write a million words and have a heart full of a million more. I truly felt capable of anything and had the energy to do anything in the world. Age and circumstance sucked my drier than a capri sun after a kids soccer match. Some days I’m completely wiped by 8 pm. Sitting in the near dark of an empty home I hardly have the energy to walk up the stairs to take to bed.
or the desire.
What I believe this boils down to is a very large lack of internal energy or drive. I’m not motivated. I’m not exactly depressed either. Not entirely. I have largely been lacking the desire to move about and, without a constant influx of caffeine, I wonder if I would on my own.
There is a school of thought that everything exists in reach of our minds. We control what we believe and feel and can do. It best manifests itself through affirmations and visualizations. I imagine there is a gigantic on/off switch somewhere inside me that guides my drive coils. It lives in the off position and what I find myself working with is the stored up energy of years of having appreciably way too much and, of course, caffeine.
So, I use the motivational words of speakers and the coffee of life to power through my day to day in the slim hopes I’m going to find a way to flip that switch and once again be free.