I have been writing! I say this with some triumph because it seems hard enough to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard every single day, much less produce something that exists as a piece of writing. But yes, I have been writing, and it’s become part of my life such that I don’t feel quite right if I’ve neglected a day. And I suppose I’ve produced some things that I like, or at least that I will like. But…… these days….. it kind of feels like I’m not getting anywhere.
I feel that now we’re settling into the doldrums of summer. If this were a naval adventure novel, we’d be becalmed. Getting agitated in the heat of the South Pacific’s sun, starting to hate the faces around us just for their familiarity. Mutiny might be stirring if we toiled under a tyrannical captain who applied the cat-o-nine-tails too liberally. Yet the worse agony would be staring out at the unchanging sea, wishing we were fish to at least feel the cool water moving against our scales. Will the wind ever stir itself and blow this July into motion?
Yesterday I got gravely stuck, and it brought me right down to the darkness under my bed (where at least it is cooler). I was stuck on this: why am I here? What is the purpose of all this doing and scheduling and trying to make my intellect move into work and writing, and my body move into anything but a sweaty blob indented into the sofa? Why am I doing anything, really? I always think to myself that the great purpose of life is love. But I’m rather alone, rather often. Love is there (it’s always there), but it seems a little distant at the moment. I feel purposeful when I work for my students, but my whole life can’t be dedicated to teaching work (especially during the summer). I hate the feeling of killing time. I hate days with nothing to do. If the purpose of a life is to make that life a happy one, why does that feel like so much work? Am I missing something?
The pay-off of having established a daily writing mandate is that when I got into this foul, self-doubting mood, I wrote something. I thought it might get me on better footing for the rest of the day.
That didn’t happen. I napped for like three hours. It was terrible.
But at least I wrote something! And I think, if I can once again perform my most famous trick of taking messy notebook writing and play with shapes and make it into something worth continuing, I might have an essay.
The idea would be this: sometimes it might be worthwhile to stop looking so clearly through the air for goals and signs and finish lines, and to instead live our lives underwater so that even if things are blurry, we are conscious of the watery world around us. We are submerged in life, and can move forward without waiting to reach something.
That’s an idea that might be worth writing.