Why Bother?

“Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer: Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don’t care about them. You are not alone.’”

– Kurt Vonnegut

What’s Exciting?

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

– A. A. Milne

We Are What We Quote

“In a real sense, we are what we quote—and what can any of us hope to be but a tiny component of that hubbub of voices distilled by books of quotations and epigrams? I have always found such volumes the most irresistible reading. They make it possible to channel-surf millenniums of cultural history, moving forward or backward at will, and plucking out whatever perfectly formed fragment turns out to be precisely what you were looking for. The endlessness of it all is enough to make your head spin, but that dizziness is arrested by the steadying compactness and solidity of the ideal quote—the one that stands there bare and isolated and unencumbered, tiny enough to be grasped all at once, yet unfathomably wide and deep.”

– Geoffrey O’Brien

Timid

“Do not be too timid & squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse, & you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, & get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never more be so afraid of a tumble.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oh, Happy

Since last autumn, when I began to make some marked changes in my inner life and schedule, I have experienced moments of pure happiness. Moments so unexpected they’ve left me giddy.

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” – Kurt Vonnegut

Is it that the circumstances in my life have changed? Not hugely. I still have many of the same struggles (finances, business stresses, health). But I think these gems I’m enjoying are the result of simply slowing down, make space in my schedule, and allowing myself to be content. Noticing when something makes me happy. It sounds so cliche, I know. Whatever. It’s working.

Walking down the street, earbuds on, a perfect album playing in subtle harmony to the breeze wrapping around me. Amazing.

A fleeting exchange with the old lady jaywalking while I wait at the crosswalk:

“You rebel!” I say.

“I’m a wild thing,” she laughs.

The recently discovered sweet, seductive warmth of scotch.

Black coffee, on a quiet morning, with nowhere to be.

The hush during a heavy snowfall.

Words on paper written by a brilliant mind, leaving me gasping for air, heart pounding, or wiping away tears.

Tiny, simple bits of life. So easily grasped if I am aware. How have I let myself miss them these last few years? I won’t waste much time on regrets or worry that I’ll miss more in the future. I just want to be.

“In this story
we sit down on Luna Bridge
and catch snow in our cupped hands
and music is
coming from the houses
or it sings inside me
I begin to mind
Oh happy, oh happy, the end,
the end, the end.

In this painting
the whole world is navy blue
I run home from the mailbox
in all the dim of five o’clock
to see you.
Cars and trees go by me,
you are in the yard
and in my arms again

Oh happy, oh happy, the end,
the end, the end
Happy, oh happy
the end.”

– The Innocence Mission

 

Why Do I Write

Discussed briefly with someone the other day the difference between creating art (literature, etc) for a wage vs creating for personal reasons. It’s a point I’ve often pondered and had planned to blog about, and having it brought up again reminded me.

I’ve noticed that when I work on creative projects for specific people, it changes how I work. In some cases, my artistic abilities are hampered significantly. I worry instead of create. I ponder their reactions in my mind, instead of playing with ideas.

If I wrote for a wage, I would likely learn discipline and it would force me to put pen to paper. However, would I compromise in an effort to churn out content? Would I come to resent writing as a drudge? Or would I overcome all that hinders me and manage to write something worthwhile?

While I certainly could stand to learn some discipline in my writing, I feel that (for myself personally) writing is something I do because I need to write for myself. I must write for the sake of writing and for the sake of my own sanity, not for contracts and paycheques and acclaim.

The trouble is, I have to remind myself of this over and over as I write. Perfectionism and worries about peoples’ opinions continually hamstring my thought process. I have to quote Anne Lamott like a mantra in my head. Shitty first drafts. Shitty first drafts. Shitty first drafts.

A Book Can Throw You Across The Room

“You can pick up a book but a book can throw you across the room. A book can move you from a comfortable armchair to a rocky place where the sea is. A book can separate you from your husband, your wife, your children, all that you are. It can heal you out of a lifetime of pain. Books are kinetic, and like all huge forces, need to be handled with care. But they do need to be handled.”

– Jeanette Winterson