Over the years, I have journaled across a number of mediums—scribbling on paper; clacking away online—and I’m familiar with how difficult maintaining a diary as a regular practice can be. At this point, I’m not much convinced that a chronicle of my worldly reflections, or even my state of mind, leaves much for me to offer as a professional activity. But as someone who has always written for themselves first, well before sharing the results to a wider audience, it may still be worth prefacing this site of mine with a few personal remarks—if only to inject some essence of vitality into where I’m at, and what I’m up to, now that I identify as a somewhat rumpled storyteller.
I think we’re at a point where it’s safe to say that the world of letters, as well as print, is in no danger of disappearing. But I do feel that a lot of what contributes to contemporary media, whether it be online or social, is underwritten by a forceful stamp of soap-box bluster—of a sort that reminds me of the posturing I’ve traditionally associated the campy melodrama of fictional courtrooms—be they televised, reported, or disseminated as infotainment. I find this kind of moral-led and moralizing theatre puffed with self-importance—something aimed at a jury as much as an audience ready to be entertained by offence than informed by patience. But this amounts to its own drama of repetition. Try, if you will, to find something new.
A climate like this can make writing a self-contained narrative—or lyric, or conversation—unplugged and offline feel that much more isolating than acts of creation are by nature. But even sitting alone at a desk, shoving the cat away from a keyboard, or from under the scratch of a pencil, is a necessary distraction to wrestle with—to say nothing of dogged, ever-snapping lists of priorities in need of imminent, social attention.
However, the sense that whatever “content” you may be producing as a creative—removed from the potential of active and almost reflexive feedback—can also haunt you and your practice with a sense of missed opportunity and imminent discovery—a possibly of not breaking into a global sea of relevance, where your work may very well miss a precious moment of recognition.
This impression may or may not be true. As tempting as it is for someone like me—who has watched the transition of voicemail, to modem, to optic cable—the urge to tap into that illusive pulse is there. But it’s worth mentioning that I do not connect with social media as much by preference, as by rule. And though I will always champion the potential for an open and democratic online world—I am also aware that my energy is better spent at a safe distance from the precipice of any flash-point ignition, especially when it may spark from the flare of a printed word.
Presently, my day-to-day existence is a relatively placid. It is driven by the activities of reading, and writing, and revising—not just my work, but old habits and reflections; attitudes that have accrued while the world has, and will continue, to change. The world, as they say, moves on—and I would prefer to move along with it. This is a significant amount of work in and of itself; but I also need to be sure that I know how represent my values, new and old, as best I can; with as much grace as I am able.
After a prolonged search, I have been able to find enough space, not just in my life, but also myself, to do what I love—to think as best I can; write as well as I know how; and teach what I am capable of sharing—and feel confident enough to make choices that were impossible before I learned how to manage my health with consistentcy. But—addionally—how much vigilance that that requires. The scale of this effort is tremendous. More importantly, it means knowing how and when to ask for help when it becomes necessary.
This is another hard lesson to accept. But even for someone who exists in a cloud of dreams, abstractions, words, and print—what many people describe as mindfulness frequently comes to me as gratitude for the love and support that has enabled me to consolidate the many worlds I have, and continue to, inhabit; along with the bizarre array of histories and experiences I have accumulated within myself until now—and presumably into the future. It is the people I love and believe in that have brought me here—relatively intact—and kept me aware that managing my mental and physical health has been a challenge for others besides myself alone.
So, I do not share these thoughts as a journal entry, or blog post, or frantic yelp out to a hungry aether—not per se—but as a glad acknowledgement that my work is not just for myself, but also an ongoing inscription dedicated to a larger story—of how I may best connect with a wider world—which happens to be by giving it a wider berth, while also respecting those who help me live in it.
I have always believed that stories are where our concepts of living cohere as a collective species, and that they take shape around a desire to understand ourselves—regardless of how opaque or illegible our own narratives may strike us face-on. Because, wherever it is you may be taken, as a curious or obstinate entity, it’s safe to say that, when you arrive, you will find yourself there already; and (to paraphrase a comic I often return to) the spectre of death inevitably becomes quite real. Though the faces it pulls at you, from out of the gloom, are frequently absurd, they do forebode the inevitability that we are all running out of time, and will eventually leave a portion of our own importance unfinished. Given that, I maintain you may as well put on a fancy hat, under a welter of glitter, and trumpet on an obnoxious kazoo.