Remember this feeling?:
It’s a completely emotional experience, not rational at all, but you trick yourself into thinking that you’ve rationalized your life, that you’ve come up with the answer, that it all makes sense now. A cruel illusion, because once the feeling is gone, so is the sensibility and you end up pecking away on your laptop trying to capture, trying to articulate, how you solved all the world’s problems in your head, but all that comes out is diarrheic banter. Little words, strung together, trying so hard and failing so miserably to describe what it is to be in Lumphini Park, walking barefoot as all the athletic runners streak by you in a blurred race to nowhere, and you are there walking, step by step, mud squeezing between your toes, listening to Nick Drake.
Yeah, I haven’t felt that in a long long time. I don’t know if it’s adjustment or adaptation or a new job or just my brain shutting off for the month of March, but I’ve been shit out of inspiration. I’m not centered. It’s like all of a sudden my brain has started stuttering and the retarded bursts of neural diphthongs can’t even make their way to my mouth.
I re-read paragraphs no matter what language they’re in. I stop listening to people if they speak more than two sentences. Friends, dear friends, have written me kind emails and left me kind voice mails and I stare at these things and listen to them and take them in and I wait for some sort of reaction to bubble up. A thought to write back … something more than, haha, that was pretty cool and it just doesn’t come.
Anyway, while my bear brain continues to hibernate, I leave you with this. Something I wrote in my journal more than three months ago after having a nice conversation with a very close friend of mine. Someone who I’ve only actually seen in person a few times (a week in New Zealand, a day in India, and a week in San Diego) and who I often go months without hearing from, but someone who I’m sure will remain friends with for a very long time.
9:25 a.m. 12/07/04 La Jolla Pannikin
A couple of days ago … or was it yesterday … no, two days ago, Sunday, I was talking to Matt Kelley on the phone. I’ve been meaning to talk to a lot of people on the phone – Charity, Mei, Simone, Jon, plenty others – but each conversation winds up lasting about an hour and I’ve still got about 80 emails to reply, each one another 15 minutes at least and I could sustain 16 hours a day just on returning phone calls and writing emails easily. In fact, it’s impossible to catch up because even after I proudly write let’s say 10 emails, feeling this sense of accomplishment, there are already another 15 in my inbox.
It’s impossible, this idea of keep old friends and make some new one are silver and the other blue. It just isn’t possible. The equation doesn’t balance out. You either make new friends and drop the old or you don’t make new friends, but after a certain point it’s really impossible to do both.
Anyway, like I was saying, Matt and I were on the phone and he had been in Illinois for no more than 48 hours and already he was depressed, lack lustered, already scheming his getaway. "I can’t deal man, this isn’t the place for me, it’s too narrow-minded." The impulse to say I told you so was there, but I hadn’t told him so, it was only a thought in my mind. A thought in my mind when he called from San Francisco, overwhelmed by the progressive community he had met, the graduate programs he was so excited about. He couldn’t concentrate he said, couldn’t focus, wanted to center all his energy, all his cognition on writing his book. Writing this book that he has been talking about for just as long as I once did my own novel. That impulse – that locomotive desire to articulate perfectly all those cerebral concepts years in the making, to produce the culmination of your consciouss life – has been somewhat tempered for myself by the outlet and the demand of blogging. Writing becomes much less an ideal and much more a process, an at times frustrating process, when the words don’t flow downstream from all those neurons firing.
Matt was in a bad space … one I’ve been in more times than I’d like to admit. The isolation, the lack of motivation, of passion, of direction. There’s the anxiety. It feels like wandering around lost in the woods. Not in some suburban park, but really lost in the Alaskan tundra and it’s starting to get dark and you haven’t seen another human face in weeks and there’s plenty of food, plenty of water, but what does it matter when every direction you face there is only limitless horizon? That’s the feeling and the more days that go by the worse you feel until you remind yourself that in life there is no true destination anyway and you choose a path, any path – preferably headed downstream along a river – and you just go and you don’t turn back.
What I told him, the only advice I could think of, the only thing that has ever worked for me is to sit down with a blank piece of paper and to write on the bottom exactly what you want out of life, an arbitrary destination, some ideal, it doesn’t matter what. And then you work your way up, a game plan, a manual, the most sensible way to get there. I told him I do it every month.
And it’s true … I used to. My old journals are filled with these little exercises … an looking back over them all I can do is laugh in detached resignation at how much my life plans have changed over the years.
But that doesn’t matter. It’s not the ideal, not the destination, that’s not why I do it. I do it for the inspiration. The motivation to start something or – even more important for me – to follow through. And what’s incredible is when you do list what is most important to you, it often affirms exactly how you’ve been living your life an erases all self-doubt. Whether it be friends or family or creativity or making money or fitness or personal growth; more often than not you’ll see that the way you live your life really does reflect your priorities.
The thing is though, I haven’t been doing this lately. I haven’t even been writing in here much lately because most of the free time I used to spend reading novels and writing in my journal, I now spend reading blogs and writing in my own. I like the interaction it’s given me, I like the feedback, how it challenges my own opinions, but I think the daily commentary and involvement often comes at the cost of deeper reflection.
So this is what I want to do now … sit down and figure it all out, list my priorities, plan out some sort of future, some defined direction. But first … it’s time to head to the library and not get a parking ticket.