Wednesday, July 8, 2015
I spent much of last night not doing anything in particular. Or, more like deliberately doing nothing. Lying down, musing. I spend too much time reading, watching Dr. Who, playing Free Cell or Minesweeper – doing things to avoid going back over my own external life, I sometimes think. I am not terribly happy with my life. It hasn’t been a train wreck but it hasn’t been a howling success, either. My personal relationships are all stunted, I think. I am at my best helping people from a little distance. Not much good when they get closer, I guess. Why write ten books that nobody reads? Why spend months on books I can’t complete? I suppose Hemingway had an answer for the latter question, never having faced the former one, because everything he published sold.
Hmm, come to think of it, Papa can you give me any useful hints as to how to go on? It seems too much.
You don’t need hints. Just don’t get into alcohol and don’t get into drugs or anything else that will add physical pressures to the mental and emotional ones. They will help you cope in the short run and will leave you totally unable to cope in the long run.
Do you know any other kind? Vicarious experience must resonate against something within you, or it will have no effect.
Well, that’s the feeling I have always had about alcohol and drugs – that they would be dangerous to me.
They are one form of danger. The root danger is deeper, that of running or walking away from yourself. They can help you do it, but they aren’t the cause of your wanting or needing to do it.
How did you cope with being so alone?
I didn’t cope, not very well. I tried to tell people who I was, what I prayed for, but they couldn’t hear and I couldn’t say, not in words. Gregorio and others whose lives were bound less in words understood me far better. But that doesn’t mean I understood myself, only that I felt better among them..
So, you wrote.
Of course. And as you recognized, after the war there was no real financial need to do so. I tried to express what I was feeling in the book about the war, but it didn’t go over, because of the publicity about Renata and because everybody read it as wish fulfillment, and I had to recoup by publishing “The Sea in Being,” but other than that, I wrote and did not publish. I thought I would pull it all together but I ran out of time.
And I know what you mean by running out of time. You left it too long.
That’s right. Some things can only be done within a certain window of opportunity, and if the window closes, it closes. You know exactly what I was dong. I was writing to preserve my own access, although I wouldn’t have put it that way. I was wanting to stop the pain of restlessly doing nothing. I was writing to create, in the hope of still coming up with something more to learn.
You were filling the emptiness.
Of course. What writer does anything else? If you have access, there is nothing remotely comparable, unless you have equal interest in the outer world, which I did, for a very long time, but not forever.
It is a mistake to think achievement can replace connection, isn’t it?
Nothing replaces anything, but some things can compensate for the absence of other things. More nothing does not compensate for the nothing you are already feeling.
Our nada who art in nada.
It wasn’t about growing old. It was about growing unable to overcome the awareness of the emptiness.
Thank you, Papa. You do help.
Helping is one of our prime pleasures, here. But remember it isn’t as serious as it seems, while you’re in it. Nobody dies of terminal seriousness, any more than they escape by means of terminal levity.
Still, it seems so long
It is long, and short. Once it is gone it will seem to have been short enough.