Paying the Price of Admission

I lay in bed at night, thinking. I sleep when I am reading. I get drowsy when I work at my computer.

I wonder if I am wired backwards, somehow caught in a loop that runs in reverse. I sit for hours in front of my laptop screen, and then drive myself to exercise. I worry about my adult children, but never as much as when Iam with them, which is when my worry hits a zenith. I do not wonder if I am sane, so much as I wonder how far off the bubble I would measure, if tested. So far, no testing.

I want to write; people have for a long time suggested to me that I should write, but then when I try to do so, I cannot remember what I might have to say! I do not have the answers yet, although I tell myself that I must have them, someplace. I think perhaps I am undisciplined and sadly, perhaps that is too true. I am also lazy, as I cannot seem to make myself awaken and be at work at 5:30, which would be the time that worked best, for my active and engaged life. I have read about writing in the wakening hours of the morning, which 'good writers' so often do, but still I do not make those committed choices . I am not driven to do so. Perhaps I am not a writer at all, I think; this litmus test is stuck on purple, a neutral. I have read of so many “real writers” who, driven by their need for expression, would take notes while jumping off of a cliff. I would jump, if I would jump at all. You understand what I mean. I would hope to tell you about it later though, from wherever I went.

But, then, when I am alone, quietly sorting through my thoughts, an exercise that seems akin to checking ones body hair for ticks, I seem pulled towards the words on a page. I move toward the expressions of things as a means to understand, to identify my world. I organize my thoughts however in a manner a bit like making pizza dough. Given the mixed ball of ingredients, I stretch it out, thinning my natural verbosity with some air; tossing around my random ideas; eventually looking at my creation after pummeling, then, I wait a little, until I approach the experience, eyeing it with the expectant air of imminent discovery, hopeful that I can make sense of the chaos. Where do the stories lie; where is the truth of a thing; what can I know from this?

I only know any of this after I have written it down, and put it's elements into a form that uses words. I cannot paint; I cannot act; I cannot flute or fiddle. I will not save the world from whatever may appear in front of us and yet, when I wonder and ponder life as it appears before and within me, I must put those strange life puzzles before me into the only tool that is available to me, the one I know. Words.

But now, The Problem. I am of an age where my own words, old friends with a certain historic familiarity, escape from me regularly. Although at one time I possessed a decent vocabulary, a time much more agile than today and far more fresh, I am now required to hunt for the correct word, searching like a small game poacher stealing upon my prey in wilderness, carrying my bag, my weapons, my snare. I seek that which would feed my need for description.

Patience escapes me, it always does, and I seek diversions less challenging. Look there, oh and yet there! Find myself making lists, wandering into mail or phone calls, cleaning wastelands within my freezer, matching socks. I am aware of the smallest details that snag a mind which refuses to be bidden and seeks adventure through distraction and seduction; calling me, fooling me into believing that any other engagement is necessary, now. I am now enveloped in the stark terror of returning empty handed from my hunt, and without that which I came for, I follow a rabbit's trail, complicitous in my own unraveling as my thoughts skitter about.

Occasionally, I return to where I intended, finding the road to my writer's journey awaiting me as fresh and inviting as the sun-shower following a rain. I attend upon the moment, and once again, I am at home, and I am relieved, and I am sure. Would that this remained long, but perhaps it is the nature of a spring shower to be intense but brief. The immediate moment of certainty must be captured when it is happening; the now cannot be duplicated nor resurrected. So often I have visualized an entire scene while staring at a distant hillside, for example, knowing specifically what that story would be about, and why, and then, like a dream upon awakening, I begin to write it down and it lacks sense. Totally divorced from the transcendent moment I am trying desperately to chase, it fades away from me, and that spark of luminescence escapes my mind, leaving behind the smallest wisp of pastel regrets. A visually clear moment rapidly disappears unless I pounce upon it, holding captive a few of the words that in my conceit I wish to use, to describe just this, and nothing else.

Later, after the glimmer has disappeared, I wonder why I acted so foolishly, attempting to concretize something, usually a thing so totally ephemeral that it will not be captured, much like a firefly, caught for it's momentary glow.

I have spent my time-allotment, so far, making my own choices. I lived. I postponed writing, and in some corner of my mind, I believed that I could in fact have it all, eventually, although maybe I made that up. I may be revising that early opinion, and am realizing that it is foolish to think that in this time, in this life, in this world, it is possible to do it all, at least for me. Now, I get to live with the results of my earlier decisions, and that includes finally getting on with writing, perhaps with more answers, certainly with more questions, and unfortunately, fewer mental marbles to play with.

Today, I am writing.

8 words, I am told, is all I need. 8 guide-words written down to let me hunt for my quarry, capture my moment, save for the future's retelling. I think I will let the bathroom dust continue to settle for a while yet. It will certainly be there when I return. Today is my opened laptop, blank, blinking and waiting.