He didn’t mean it in a nasty way, and I didn’t take it like that at first. When my light-of-my-life thirteen year old son said: “Mom. No one is going to read your blog” truly, it was if a giant weight was lifted off of my chest. What if no one read anything I wrote? What if I had total freedom to write everything, but no one else would see, would I still write? How much does an audience matter to me? Clearly it matters not enough to saddle myself with debt to pursue academic validation, but also enough to publish my words publicly on the internet. At the risk of romanticizing the past; perhaps it is a generational idea in that I cling to imagining a choice there. It wasn’t always obligatory to put oneself “out there” or at least it looked a lot different than it does now.
For one thing, people used to talk on the phone simply to connect. I spent an hour on the phone with my Mother a few days ago and I remember feeling uncomfortable, like something unusual was happening. It was after we hung up and there was that solid silence that closed in on me like a shutting door that I realized the whole being on the phone and talking thing was what was strange and nostalgic. Sorting things out on a blog and publishing it on the internet for maybe negative billion people to read, is apparently, nothing to give much thought about at all.
During a creative dry spell recently, when my mind was more hedge maze of self-limiting emotions than anything else, I remembered that Buckminster Fuller used to tell people that he contemplated suicide, but decided rather than throw his life away, he would dedicate it to saving our “Spaceship Earth”. Inspired by this memory, I took my phone out of my pocket and wrote a little note of encouragement to myself- one which I have referenced more than a few times since.
I read my note again, and the little story about just one day being on the brink of suicide and “deciding” to be a savior of the world just rubbed me the wrong way. I mentioned in my last blog post that I find any “And I suddenly changed” narrative hard to believe in. A quick internet search for confirmation revealed, the story Bucky told was one he fabricated to hide how long he had lost direction and purpose in his life. How easy was it to be absolutely insane with grief and self loathing to wield the genius that comes from total depression into a tool that convinces everyone around him of how worthy his ideas are? I think being an ivy-league dropout white man helps a fair amount. Although Fuller certainly used dark times to spur his wild creativity, he hit rock bottom repeatedly and his crazy was as wide and deep and well documented as any in history. In a way, finding out that he had to create his own mythology to fuel his creations and throw himself out into the world, trying to convincing others of his own validity could be more inspiring to me than the neatly packaged suicide parable he told everyone.
Admitting that I have been thrown (thrown myself?) for an existential loop the past couple of years is a great downplay. I can leave my quite stale lifelong struggle to find somewhere to “belong” in the world in a box for another day. I now live in a time when I have been confronted with news that most of the world’s living species will be going extinct in my (potential) lifetime. I know I have played my own small plastic role in this destruction narrative and I find even my now-pithy dreams of creating worthy art and abundance in my life, gray and hard to grasp at.
Since no one is reading this, the upside to that is I am free to be a little more forthright with my own inner workings than I would be if I had an Audience. And so. Some time ago, when I was very calmly and shrewdly (dare I say, rationally?) considering ending my own life, which was a departure from other times I had considered it- ones that were laced with very intense heartfelt emotions trailing catastrophic life events. I would turn this problem/idea over and over in my head obsessively on my daily walks. It really was one morning, in which I said to no one: “I didn’t ask to be born. I had no control over it.” to which nature replied in her million billion ways “Choice and control are funny stories. Surrender to change.” I took that to mean I will die in due time anyway, so I may as well submit to that fact and keep walking with the unfolding of life– the seemingly unbearable pain, the heartache, and all. Although it wasn’t overnight, not long after this revelation the cloud began to lift significantly for me. I assume a large part in due to being able to put that idea to rest and therefore had much more energy for living. Very shortly after that, the back to back suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain saturated the already death-obsessed media, and had I not gone through a revolution of sorts, I think I would have experienced that week very differently. Perhaps there is something to be said for overnight epiphanies after all.
I think about my future death every day now over a year later, but hardly obsessively- or at least not with the same heavy handedness. The more I think about it, the more I read about it, the less afraid I am of it, and I feel less afraid of life, or if I am- of making the ‘right’ choices to try and control some outcomes that create a life centered on happiness or one I “want” to live and other such nonsense. I make choices with the resources I have access to at the time and a best guess as to what will serve the highest good. My resources are infinite some ways, and non-existent in others. One day I will be dead and I will no longer have the worries and stresses that get to me now, and that is a gift I hope to be ready and ripened to receive when it comes to me.
There are those bottom-places filled with darkness that, in which mysteries marinate long enough and in the right conditions, will birth beauty and light. This is observable in the natural physical world, and in the realm of soul. Is something actually written if no one reads it? I don’t know. If I don’t write and share, there would be the comfortable certainty of no one reading a word. I found that reassuring for quite some time. At first I was resigned that idea, accepting the notion that what I think about and type out on a blog ( or anywhere else) has little to no influence in the world, perhaps very much akin to the way an animal of prey relaxes into the sharp toothed mouth of Fate.
Imaginary reader, that once-resignation coughed and squirmed and turned into something alive that has slowly and repeatedly ripped at my heart enough months that I must consider I am one of those ridiculous people who will waste chunks of their lives writing things that no one will read and making art that no one will see. Much like choosing to continue breathing because I have decided to believe in the reality of this natural order I have found myself inhabiting, I choose to appease my little ambitious animal heart and create. I don’t know how many times I must keep choosing this. I don’t know how many blog posts I need to basically say “here I am”, but at least this one more. I am a no-name fool lacking an institutional education and imaginary audience with the basic ability to upload a blog post on a website.
I am writing.