I have fallen off haven’t I?
Well it’s not out of disinterest or lack of commitment.
It’s out of routine–a strange, strong lull has rolled in to the river house. A three-day lull.
The days are blurring together now. Perhaps it coincides with the right old skunking the dogs received on Day 6. Our wood walks have diminished since then.
But I will not blame a skunk for my own actions. I am fairly certain I’ve spent all of the past two days in my studio–not necessarily writing much in the way of novels. Doing lots of thinking, though. Lots of honing my ideas. My theories. My beliefs. And a lot of reading too.
I have decided to let the novel come on its own accord. Digging is for coal miners and grave tenders.
I never would have thought I’d be so comfortable with so much solitude. With the exception of my roommate I am alone out here. And besides, he keeps to himself as well. Even now he is up the hill, drinking with the boys, checking his internet. I would rather be here, on this couch, with my book, and my water bottle; looking out all these big bay windows at the river and the sycamores and the wind.
Although I suppose I can’t actually see the wind. It is merely by its interaction with the sycamores that I am able to see it in action. Otherwise it is a perfectly invisible force. Auditorily speaking, it makes itself known in the slow gusts, and the distant chimes. Nature’s solfeggios. A perfectly audible force.
I imagine I could spend all my time out here, engrossed in my books, finding eventually the stroke of my own creative genius.
Alas, my Walden-esque dreams have been made possible by this place. My desire to shirk the burdens of society and move into the woods where I might do nothing but write, read, contemplate, and dissolve into a being of greater intellectual and spiritual import.
The old pain has returned; and right on time I might add.
What is the artist without a hearty sense of existential dread?
What is the artist without melancholy?
A tree without a trunk.
Ice without water.
Peonies without sunlight.
Catch my drift?
Tutus without ballerinas.
Radios without antennae.
Bread without flour.
Scottie Pippen without Michael Jordan.
Bacon without smoke.
Capitalism without China.
Okay, okay. You get my point. But it is to say that by clinging to certain someones, certain things, I seek to avoid the inevitable sensation of my aloneness. I reach out to reach in. But as an artist, as someone trying their damnedest to put words to the more ineffable experiences of the human condition, it is necessary for me to feel what boils and brews inside me. So I have decided to accept my fate. I have decided to plunge headfirst into this experience here. To not restrict myself. And yet to find the balance of a good routine.
Still, the past few days have been uneventful enough that a single three-day post seems more than appropriate.
Updates: Love is something you give out without expectation. Not just the givers, but the takers too. Everyone has to learn this in their own time. When you give love away, you give love to yourself. It’s a very strange thing, you know?
I love you.
You are merely the object of my life, the receiver. But the love is mine. It comes from me.
Here’s the most important thing to take from my experience thus far: I am so happy to be with the person I love the most. She is always with me. Always. She is creative. Imaginative. Intelligent. Vivacious. Strong. Sensitive. Deeply engaged. She is a seeker. A contemplator. A dreamer. She embodies every bit of what I look for in a human being. And yet, I don’t have to look at all. For she is in me. She IS me. And I am her. At any given moment, I can let her know how I feel about her, and I feel her light up. I feel her heart warm. Her cheeks blush. Her lips pout. Her scalp tingle.
Lisa Dion, a renowned child psychologist, Gestalt therapist, and play therapist, once said, “If you are attached to yourself, you can be attached to anyone.”
So it is that I am here with the person I love the most in this world: myself. Gifted nothing but time. Nothing but quiet.
Days 6, 7, & 8. A chill has descended upon these woods. The Progenitor of the OAC has returned to himself. The river has picked up its pace. The streams have grown gunky with mud-sloshed leaves. The woodpeckers have quit their constant song. And the Sun. The Sun doth not come out but for an hour or two.
The other day I got lost on my way home from town. It was late. Stars-in-the-sky late. Ten PM to be exact. About the time when Zoey’s melancholia becomes most prominent. I drove over the bridge, past highway D, turned onto 89 and went toward Linn. I found myself in unfamiliar territory. I turned around. I went back. I found my way. I put Dark Side of the Moon on and let myself rage. I pulled over a hump in the road to its grassy shoulder, nearly overturning my Subaru at 50 miles per hour. I put the car in park. Turned the music up. And sobbed. Loudly, then quietly. Rising and falling like crescendos. Like clouds. Like the sound of the wind. I let myself miss her. Miss the sensation of closeness. The sensation of intimacy. The rest is simply adornments, ornaments, accoutrement. A soft voice, a gentle graze of my stomach, a cupping of breast, nuzzling of ass, a moment of prolonged eye contact. All very lovely. All very desirable.
But what I crave the most is an intimacy of self. A deep, unbroken communion with my own soul. And I am only days into finding it within my reach.
Where one blocks, something else unblocks. One door closes, so to speak. And the door of my soul gets slammed WIDE open, gusts billowing in, papers flying everywhere, bread crumbs stirring on the hard wood. A distant song infiltrates the room. The studio gets BLASTED with light. And suddenly the stars are sitting on the deck reading Sirian poetry. And the void has come to rest inside me. And a single blade of tall, golden grass juts into the sky. And… and… and something transfigures itself in the moon glow, transmutes in the low clouds, evolves into a full blown promise. A promise of what? A promise of what?
Of nothing really. The promise of right now. The promise of presence. Of dealing directly with the present, the here-and-now, instead of the bramble of the past, the tangled mess of Christmas lights in the basement of your being. There are humans who deal in the now, who find communion in the now. They do not drag their haversacks along, shilling out old rusted pence, useless stories of times gone. They do not dream of a long-dead Golden Age. They make it. They bring it to life right in front of themselves. So maybe the specters on the wall will have something to dance to.
I was walking the other day and a memory was brought to my mind. By whom, there is no telling. But it was this: A waterfall descending into oblivion, slipping, sliding, and shooting over soft granite cleaves into the valley below. A girl tending to an afternoon fire, under cover of forest. Another girl, out in the open, getting as close to the edge as possible without falling over; talking to strangers; befriending strangers; missing the fire. Upon the return of girl no. 2, girl no. 1 is still tending, still stoking, still poking. She is wearing a big green sweatshirt and glasses. Her hair is in a bun beneath a ball cap. Girl no. 2 says something stupid, something unnecessary, about how she used to make fires; how different it was. Girl no. 1 gets upset. She storms off. The fire dies. Girl no. 2 sits in her own guilt. The waterfall, the cliff’s edge, they are permanent fixtures in the landscape. But Girl no. 1’s fire? A fleeting thing; a quick flash of heat and friction. Girl no. 2 should have stayed put. She should have gotten the franks out–the sausages they bought together at the store. How nice would that have been? How tender to share the warmth of Girl no. 1’s incendiary efforts? Simple as that. Girl no. 2 should have stayed. She should have gotten the franks out. But that is not how this memory goes. The fire dies. Only regret remains.
But we are dealing with the present now. The present has no room for regret; has no need for it. The present asks us to take our shoes off by the welcome mat; it asks us to leave our bags outside, where the wind–that perfectly invisible, perfectly audible force–may come to whisk it away. The present says, sit here, stay a while, breathe to breathe.
And right now, the present is a long drawn lull, a blur, a smashing of days into one large theater of clouds and stars, sun and moon, peace and pain. Days 6, 7, & 8. A blur. A longing. A storm. A crush. A sadness. A need. A loss. A breaking. A torment. A joy. Yes, yes, yes, a joy indeed. A true, unfiltered, still-ripened joy.
And a getting back on, a saddling back up, so to speak.
But might I remind myself: that time is just space, and space doesn’t care whether it’s empty or full.