First Draft

November 23, 2014, 2:44 a.m.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Just woke from a dream in which a woman is talking about writing with a fountain pen and how it is perfect for those times when you know what you want to write, and it is relatively short. Then I woke up, and I think, I guess she prefers a more even, reliable flow for the hard work of just starting to write when you don’t know what you want to say–or when you have so much to say but you haven’t been saying it so it’s backed up and clogged and things are going to get messy enough without adding a fountain pen into the mix. That’s what I thought. Because I’ve never used a fountain pen, but I imagine they are messy.

So, it has been a dark three days–yesterday not so dark as the previous two–more recovery from the indulgence of the previous two. Really, yesterday was supposed to be the day I would finally sit down and start writing, but it was a cleaning day instead and much needed. New old dishes to be unpacked, washed, and put away, old old dishes to be taken from the cupboards, packed up, and stored away for Aaron when he moves. It was good work and I’m glad I did it–very gratifying to sit down to dinner last night with china gleaming on the table.

But this is the problem with not writing. There is always something else to be done, and the longer you aren’t writing the easier it is to continue not writing, until, if you are like me, you have some truly nasty days. Dark descends and every thought turns down that path. The destroyer awakens and feeds, and takes every occasion to convince me that my life is worthless, my ideas vain and insipid, my loves illusion, my joy dust.

Usually I can count on having one or two insomniac nights a week, where I go to sleep at the usual time and wake up at 2 a.m. (or, when the clocks changed, 3 a.m.). This past week, from last Monday to this morning, Sunday, every night but one has been an insomniac night. Wake at 12 even a couple of those nights and get back to sleep around 4, but when I wake at 2 or 3 usually it’s for the night. And I’ve been so tired that I just lie there hoping to fall back asleep but today… today I woke from a dream about writing with a fountain pen and I got to thinking about the day ahead–how once again there are many things to do and how was I ever going to fit writing into that? Well, why am I waking up in the middle of the night? Maybe it is hormonal hell, but it also is a damned good time to write. Most of the nearby world is asleep–their mind waves deep gamma or whatever–and peace reigns.

When I am writing–and by that I mean active, regular, daily writing–peace reigns in my world. Thoughts flow clear, and ideas come…freely from that mysterious place ideas and dreams and myths come. I can go a long time without writing–especially if I am doing some form of creative work instead–but eventually I get clogged up, dried out, and start thinking my life is over. Writing is the juicy fruit that sustains my life, and I deny myself way too often of that sustenance.

Why is that? It is easy to point to the daily grind–work, school, the odd yoga class, keeping house and home together…all these things keep me from writing. But I know that isn’t it, because when I have something to say I will write it–it will out, and if that means schoolwork or housework doesn’t get done then so be it. I’ve witnessed this, many times. I’ve also had long stretches of time when external commitments were light or even nonexistent and I didn’t write. So no, it isn’t busy-ness that keeps me from writing.

First Draft

First Draft

I think it has more to do with calcification. We are born imitators–looking first to our parents and then to other sources for what to think, how to act, what to say. You can see this if you have children or know some children fairly well. They imitate, and so do we. It is our way of adapting to the world around us–a basic survival mechanism.

But not only do we imitate others–we imitate ourselves. We form habitual patterns so to free our minds to think about other things; and this also is a form of adaptation, a survival mechanism. Imagine if you had to think about how to drive every time you got behind the wheel? How to cook an egg? How to write?

So we learn to do things by repetition and practice and we get comfortable doing them. What I think we forget is the reason why we learn how to do things. And no, it isn’t so that we can grow up and become middle managers and good consumers. We learn how to do the basic survival stuff in this world so that we can create our own lives. We learn the rules so we can break them–innovate.

I think I don’t write basically for the same reason that I don’t think about the immensity of space. Or to use an example from Jung: religion is a defense against religious experience. My daily, habitual life is a defense against the hard work of digging into my psyche and fleshing out the thoughts and conversations I am always having in my head. It’s uncomfortable–if I am doing it right and not somnolently. It stretches the boundaries of my mind, the way the immensity of space stretches my conception of myself and this world. Whoa. It’s hard to take. You want to be comfortable and secure–to know who you are and where you are going, what you will cook and eat for dinner, where you will walk your dog. In the face of the infinity of space that all becomes so small and easily…just blown away. You must let go of all the barriers you construct to keep yourself safe in order to really think about the immensity of outer space (or the equally infinite, though infinitesimal, immensity of inner space). And that is what religious experience is, and that’s what writing is. Scary, but it nourishes the soul.

A Main Theme

It’s only when we try to twist ourselves into unnatural (for us) shapes in order to conform to some perceived expectation that we go bad. Or crazy.

It matters not what others think of you, because they will not be there when you die. They may be beside you, but no one but you can be there when you die, so you should be the first and final authority on how you live.

Because

You can start anywhere, and there will still be stuff before that, just as pertinent to the story you want to tell. But you have to start somewhere, so a good recipe.

I’m supposed to have a game plan, a clear picture of where this is going, but honestly, the idea started in 2004, and if I don’t start I never will–so I’m just going to start.

We live in very interesting times. Can I quote William Blake so early without being judged pretentious? “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” And, oh yes, we are all the best and the worst.

What I envision is a bit of salve–healing the worst and encouraging the best in whoever it may. But it may not, and that is OK too. I just know that if I don’t write about the stuff I’m thinking I feel like I’m surviving, and if I do I feel like I’m in love.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

To outline the idea of Human Nation News, basic premises:

  • We’ve outgrown the us-them thing, and we need to think of all humans as part of the same group. We’re out here in space, on a planet we’ve nearly made uninhabitable for this number of people in the future, and we need to recognize we are one. Or not. But if we don’t and we continue on this path we’re on….it ain’t gonna be pretty.
  • Most of us know this at some level, but think we’re a minority, or that for one of a few reasons it’s impossible to change what has developed over centuries: it’s like turning the Titanic. But I believe we can turn on a dime, like schools of fishes or flocks of birds.
  • In fact, we are a majority.
  • I believe in the power of words, music, art, and the stories we tell to nourish the best in us, and also to feed the worst in us. We are given too much feed, and I intend to nourish.

Good night, and good luck.
(But as a professor I know says, make your own luck.)