something other than the sum of my days

time and again I find myself confounded and perplexed by the different places I've lived and people I've known– dreams propel me back into lost contexts and once more I find myself in thisbe's farmhouse kitchen or a cornfield in iowa snapping stagey photographs with people I seem hardly to know but whose faces are fixed forever on film. it isn't so much that I want to recapture these expended bits of lived experience, rather that something in me urges to reconcile them. I know folks who routinely and obsessively renarrate their identities to the most convincing cases possible. sheer happenstance propels me into a few minutes' encounter with a writer I once knew for all of about five minutes, and the gravitational pull of her world throws mine momentarily all off kilter– I'm suddenly wondering why don't I have a big, international writing project that I'm smack in the middle of? and then, after a bit, I'm able to shake myself like a dog shedding wet and remember that hers isn't my story. but every such momentary happenstance does seem to cast me back into questioning just how my own tale coheres. I suspect somewhat that my own struggle, much of the time, is in resisting this very compulsion to fix the story, to form it willfully into this or that shape, but rather repeatedly to draw myself back into the more direct living of it– because, so far, it does keep happening. and too much preoccupation with explaining it to myself can interfere with the immediacy of the experience. but there's a balance. between drifting and driving forward. or between two other things I can't quite name. maybe it's simply that I require the thinking vehicle of writing when I wake up from these dreams, to ease my heart, to reacquaint myself with myself, to reassure myself that I am not as dispersed and diaphanous as it sometimes, terrifyingly, feels. not that I ever forget the real, good things that ground me in the here and now– just that the panoramas that play out can, by their very variety and number, dwarf the humble, uncooked daily context I inhabit, throw it unfairly into cross-examination, onto the witness stand to fabricate some coherent narrative stitching it all, patchwork but seeming seamlessly, together. the truth is, I may never tell this story. or else maybe I already am, only most indirectly and episodically in this medium, as seems to suit my mood and general temperament. to what end I still can't name.

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6 Replies to “something other than the sum of my days”

  1. howdy,
    i sometimes feel that i missed a turn-off somewhere. i seen a quote yesterday from some fink saying something like ' we dont mourn who we are, but who we fail to become' obviously not a cheery fella, but right, i think.
    i have something from the hagakure i want to share with you as well.
    here goes.
    'there is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. a mans whole life is a succession of moment after moment. if one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. live being true to the single purpose of the moment. everyone lets the present slip by, then looks for it as though he thought it were somewhere else. no one seems to have noticed this fact. but grasping this firmly, one must pile experience upon experience. and once one has come to this understanding he will be a different person from that point on, though he may not always bear it in mind.
    when one understands this settling into single-mindedness well, his affairs will thin out. loyalty is also contained within this single-mindedness.'
    probably not relevant but i love it so im shoehorning it in here anyhoo.
    why havent you been writing as much? or have you, and just not here? maybe its because you're content? i find i only really make things when im at the fringes of emotions. very depressed. very wired. very something. contentment is the way to go. but i find it really gums up the brain.

  2. that hagakure excerpt is, I think, completely relevant– and beautiful and wise and reassuring to me– I believe it. o samurai, the path is not an easy one. I also think you're smackdab on the money about the writing thing. I haven't been doing as much of it in the last several months– fallout both from more persistent happiness kind of shortwiring the need and also the transition from lots of solo hours to mull and muddle around to living in company with another delightfully distracting person. in the way of these things, however, I know inherent rhythms and needed outlets reassert themselves gradually, as I see them beginning to do.

  3. man, it's such a gift to me to scribble and type and hit the old button and then to receive nice little notes from my favorite writers in this place. whee! sometimes it seems like the vox love wanes, but it lives, baby, it lives!

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