Please enjoy these blogposts, written between 2011 and 2015. Another blog is on the way.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Creaking and Yielding

A wonderful book

"We are jury-rigged creatures, psychically; one cannot start down the road of undoing the self's slapdash constructions without the whole structure starting to creak and yield."

                                -- Tim Farrington, in A Hell of Mercy

What took me to Mexico in February, and then to Mallorca? Dryness. Immobility. Exhaustion, usually following a day of doing almost nothing. When you get to this place, trying something different, unlike anything the "you" you know would do, begins to seem like your only move.

Since Mallorca, I've been suffering from a bad cold, as bad as the colds I used to get from hanging out with little kids who stuck their fingers in my eyes and up my nose to show me how much they liked me. I've stayed in bed for a few days. Now I'm sitting in my office wondering what's next. What new rock-solid beliefs about myself are going to crumble, and who will I be when they do?

What really worries me is that I'll manage to glue myself back together again before I'm finished falling apart, that my box (see my last blog) won't expand, may even contract, that I'll stop these changes before they go too far. Where would be too far? The place where I feel no ground under my feet. Where I grasp (despite everything I've been given) the utter emptiness of my life. But that's where God lives, I suspect, and where whatever I do will come from the deepest place in me. I have to go to that place if I want to do anything during the last quarter of my life--and what may turn out to be the sunset years of human life on earth--besides watch television.

I've signed up for the next step after Expand the Box: Possibility Labs. These will happen for me in late June right here in Washington State. In the meantime, there's the little problem of my vocation, what I do when I get up in the morning. For the last 10 or 15 years, depending on when I start counting, this vocation has been writing. I've published some stories and put together a story collection that I haven't tried very hard to get into print. Not much to show for 10 -15 years.

I've started several books too, of course. The two that are choking my inboxes right now are an attempt at autobiography and a mystery. At the moment neither seems worth investing in. The first is the story I've been telling myself about my leaving-home experiences, the transition from my family's house to a freshman dorm at Stanford. How I understand those years will certainly change in the near future. The mystery is an effort to write something marketable, but no one I've shown it to likes it much. I don't know if I've learned not to like it from them or if it really isn't very entertaining.

I guess I'll start with cleaning up my space. Books are piled everywhere, magazines are stacked waist-high. I've already stripped my bulletin board.

Then I'll sit down and see what happens.

Tim Farrington again:

"I kept coming back to the desk every morning anyway, and I am convinced, in retrospect, that this is a key element in the dark night reaching critical mass: having something, anything, that you will continue to do just for the doing of it, long after every possible reason to do it has evaporated, a leap of faith you are willing to take even after it has become clear that it really does just go straight off that cliff and you're not a hero or a saint or anything even remotely edifying, you're a freakin' idiot and they're going to spell your name wrong on your gravestone."