• Setting out my stall

    I’m starting this blog/diary as a place to record my thoughts in a more structured way and in a place through which I can connect to other people. Writing by hand in my journal is nice, but it is hard to see the shape of what I’ve written. I guess this is a personal blog, and through it I want to explore the things I think about every day in an effort to clarify and examine my thoughts. I’m reading Sheila Heti’s Motherhood right now. She says she holds in her mind various dolls that represent the other lives she could have lived, and that they are just as real to her as the life she is, in fact, living. This life lived in the imaginary is something I’m guilty of, too. Living out various lives, all seemingly so real to me in my mind, and yet, as I near age 35 I am aware that my life is not getting longer. It is no longer suitable to hold the possibilities of what could be in my mind and not live them out in this physical world.

    What do I imagine?

    I imagine a life of quiet contemplation. I imagine a life of creative pursuits. I have imagined becoming known for my writing and my thinking, or perhaps doing something that helps a lot of people. I have done some things, but not much. I haven’t published anything of meaning or worth. I have helped some people, I have given a lot in some ways. But what now? So many years left (I hope), and so unsure what to do with them.

    Can we quantify our accomplishments? Is it more important to affect the lives of 10,000 or 1? Why the need to affect the lives of others, to put our imprint on the world in some way? To affect, ever so slightly, the course of history? I think it’s because, without evidence of our living, it is hard to know for sure if we existed. If we cannot see evidence that we existed and did or created something, then how can we know for sure? How much is enough? Maybe our goal should actually be to walk as softly as possible and leave as little mark as we can? To live quietly. This appeals to me, and yet, I feel the tugging in me that wants to let other people know that I’ve found this quiet, unharmful way to live, and that is antithetical to living the quiet life. I want to influence other people to live in such a quiet way, and yet, I cannot do that while remaining quiet. If I want to live a quiet life, then I have to commit to not telling anyone about it.

    Why does this prospect of remaining quiet feel so dismal? Is it because I also crave connection? Or is it borne simply from an egocentric desire to influence? I admire people who write and teach, quietly. I think there could be a way to do that that is in line with my values. But what kind of writing? What kind of teaching? Do I actually have anything to give that would decrease the suffering of others?

    I seek clarity. I want to get my mind out of my own way. I know…I need to meditate. And I will. I have felt the effects before, and I know that it is real and worthwhile, and I know that I would really like to wake up before 9 am every morning. I do not want to feel slovenly. I want to feel alive and in my body. Vivacious. Living through my senses so that I can quiet my mind. Cutting out the noise.

    I need to learn to do small things. I am only able to think big, and this is harmful, to me and to my work. I need to appreciate the micro and remember that this one moment is the only real one that exists. Most of all, I crave peace.

    And transcendence. That feeling of being at one with the world, of connecting to something larger than oneself. When I think of god and faith, the thing that hooks me is the experience of transcendence. Why does it feel so good? Why does it feel like such a vital part of being human? I find it impossible to rationalize the existence of a deity, so why is there a thing inside me that reaches for transcendence? And I know it’s in other people, too: don’t they say that transcendent experiences directly lead to increased happiness? Is that why people go to church every Sunday? It is amazing, really, to think of all of the people in this country that have convinced themselves that god exists. To drive by so many churches every time I am in my car, and to see these spaces that are filled every Sunday, with people who believe. How is it possible? I guess we all want some light by which to guide our lives. That’s what I’m seeking, too, and to some extent I found a glimmer of it in church and god last year. What was that? What was that inkling in me and why do I miss it? Something stirred in me, from a place of desperation, craving redemption and rebirth, shedding the old: church and god and faith spoke to me. The liturgical calendar that marks the passage of time, every Sunday a ritual.

    And art. What about art? What is art, why does it matter? Is it because of transcendence? Is it an alternative to god? I want art to be something for me, but I find when I lead with my head, that I find art just as difficult to justify as god herself. Does art have utility? Does it need utility? Or is it, like god, a medium through which we connect to other people? When I let my body lead, I’m drawn to dance, to read, to write, to fuck, to walk and walk and walk. Walking is an art form. To lead with one’s body is an art form. Letting my body lead might be a path to transcendence.

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