I honestly never thought this alphabet experiment would take this long. I thought it would be a good 26 day exercise to push me to write every day. To be honest, I’m one of those people who, if pushed? Go slower. There’s this inherent rebellion in me that manifests in such a way which may or may not be a good one.
Even if it’s someone who loves me, who is trying to be encouraging. I will openly defy that love and insist that I will get there in my own good time. Stubborn damn wanker, I can be at times. So, I’m stepping outside the comfort (pigheaded? has anyone ever asked pigs how they feel about this?) zone and I’ve signed up for another 30 days of write yourself something more than you have been already. It’s actually called write yourself alive, but I take issue with that because it negates the life I’m already living. Which, let’s be honest, is pretty fucking good. Now there might be some out there who are wandering in state of half-life, biding their time until the amazing thing comes along and allows them to step outside of the regimen they’ve been pigeonholed into. I have those moments, I imagine other people do too.
Where I give myself permission to be like a plant that has adapted to surviving with very little water (which is the definition of xerophytic..see what I did there? No worries, I won’t rest on my clever laurels just yet, I’ve got three more obscure X words to work in to this thing..) because I convince myself that the trickle is all I need to get by. I can make do with the sparse, with the moderate amounts of air and water and love, it’s selfish to desire more than that when so many have so much less.
Fuck that. Give me a goddamn ocean of love, all salty sweet and overwhelming. Give me a riptide that drags me away from the safety of the shore and casts me into an unknown, where treading water isn’t enough. Because to an extent, treading water is a struggle, a fight, a way to keep my head just above water while having no awareness of what’s happening in the depths around me. Have the courage to sink below and become full, saturated and maybe then I’ll float, taken by tide to drift where I will. It works for wood, with all of its xyloid ways. Wood in water becomes heavy with it. It takes on as much as it can and then it stops taking any more. It might sink, it might float, but it never stops moving and it never fights the direction it goes. It just goes. If it finds its way back to land? It dries out and it waits, ever patient, sitting calm with the memories of the tree it once was. It hasn’t stopped being that tree. It’s just adapted to the present, representing itself in something we might see as less reverent, less majestic, but the essence it still there. Now I’m wondering about the tree that this desk I’m writing at came from. This could get very tangential, if I’m not careful.
So the writing course, I did it a while back in January? Yeah, I think January. And I was so resistant. It was hard to consider making writing a habit, because it was something I did so idly. Regardless of the fact that it makes me feel amazing when I do it. Why wouldn’t I cultivate habits of things that make me feel amazing? Instead of the things that don’t? I’m no damn cactus! Though there are days when I’m a prickly flower, to be fair. But I know myself well enough to understand that the more I rebel against something, the more I need to stop it. I’m not talking about rebelling against a totalitarian government, I’m talking about rebelling against good things.
When I see people who are expressing themselves with appreciation and courage and open hearts and minds and my cynical little dark voice immediately reaches for the “cue eye roll and pour a nice glass of sarcastic bitter dram of mindblinders” I tell myself that I’m so glad to be here alone in my personal cave of wonders, at an arm’s length from anything that might hurt me or, perish the thought, get close enough to shift my perspective. And while there are creatures who live and thrive in solitary existences (carpenter bees being one, aka xylocopa) even they realize the benefit to sharing space, work, existence. Straight out of wikipedia, “Carpenter bees are traditionally considered solitary bees, though some species have simple social nests in which mothers and daughters may cohabit. However, even solitary species tend to be gregarious, and often several nest near each other.”
Even solitary species tend to be gregarious. Loners need tribes. Humans are social creatures and thrive when able to share themselves with those who reciprocate. How often I forget that. How much the group of friends, amazing writers all, have reminded me. But old habits die hard and my ability to withdraw and let go of the good habits not quite ingrained into my daily existence, mostly from not practicing them, have allowed me to slide into the comfortable zone where I tell myself I have enough friends, enough interactions, enough.
I recently started a heavy duty mechanics course. For the next 10 months, I’ll be interacting in a classroom and shop setting with a group of 17 other humans, the majority of which are half my age. Literally. It’s intimidating to say the least, especially since they know so much more than I do about what we’re studying. My first reaction to them was that I was going to ignore them and just learn from the teacher. But I’ve started to glean that not only do they have helpful perspectives on the things being taught, they’re ecstatic to share what they know with someone older. I’m also discovering that I have perspective on the world that they don’t yet, simply because I’ve lived twice as long as them. And sometimes it comes in very handy. It allows me patience (though there are times when I bite my tongue more often than other) because I understand that I was once young and impetuous and knew enough that I had a tendency to think I knew enough. Now I know I didn’t, and still don’t, but I’m still learning and they will too.
We all have the ability to be xenophobic, to have a fear of strangers. To worry that they’re going to take something from us, without giving anything back. But it goes the other way too. If someone is a stranger to me, I tend to forget that I’m also a stranger to them. I know what my point of view is, that it’s benign. I know that my motivation comes from a place of calm and sometimes excessively silly joy. Theirs might be too and if I live a life in fear of finding out, that’s a life half-lived (ooh full circle! Maybe write yourself alive is completely accurate..there are so many variations on life…it’s best not to be too narrow).
So that gives me an opportunity to be a xenagogue, to be a guide and to allow others, people I don’t yet know with perspectives I can’t yet imagine, to share their knowledge and their hearts with me, in the hope that I grow. Like Veronica Lake said to Alan Ladd in the Blue Dahlia, “It’s funny but practically all the people I know were strangers when I met them.”
So cheers to the first family I found with the original 30 days of writing I did. I love you all so much and how much suggests that I have space in this wacky poets’ head and heart to share that with more delicious creatures.