Friday, December 4, 2015
It occurs to me, all this incessant reading and no writing is how I used to live my life, for decades. It seems so strange, now. Why did I do that? Why am I doing it now?
6:15 a.m. Let’s make it a definite question? Why did I, and do I?
It is easier, reading, to hold yourself in that imaginal space than to hold there while writing or painting, because that requires an additional degree of concentration that cannot be maintained indefinitely. One can work hard for a long time in spurts, or for a much lesser time routinely – but not for a long time routinely except by being in training, as Hemingway knew.
And I didn’t work – why?
Lack of confidence, lack of a definite defined objective, lack of intent in the largest sense. You thought you would like to make your living by writing novels but you didn’t want to do that really, or nothing would have stopped you trying. What you really wanted to do, you did.
I read, and hid from the world?
You didn’t hide, you looked at it from a window and tried to figure it out, tried to imagine yourself a place in it. But how were you to imagine yourself a place such as you were able to make, finally?
In other words, I finally made my way to what I needed to do all along?
Not that: That would be saying you were in the wrong place and found your way right. You were in the right place all along; everyone always is, and how could they not be? That doesn’t mean people are where they want to be; that’s a different story.
Longing is a part of life like anything else.
Longing, suffering, hardship, pain, illness, dissatisfaction, anger, frustration, sin and agony – all of it is part of life in duality, and if you think any of it can be eliminated, well, you’re wrong. Any specific manifestation or kind of manifestation may be suppressed in given circumstance, but you will find that as extremes are eliminated, emotions become triggered equally by less extreme stimuli. If you are not starving and you know nothing of starvation, you become equally uncomfortable or unhappy when you get a little too hungry, or when the food available becomes a little too dull or tasteless. Human life is a matter of internal response to externals. But the externals are not random, because they always correspond to internals. That’s why Jesus advised not to waste time worrying about what you’re going to eat tomorrow. He didn’t mean, sit down and wait for it to come to you, he meant, whatever happens will be no accident but will flow naturally from what you are.
And the fate of his various martyred associates?
You think any of them would trade? You think they ended their days wishing they’d had a nice life as ordinary fisherman or whatever? Is it worth something, to be part of something extraordinary? And if the extraordinary requires the forfeiture of the ordinary – and it does, of course; how could it not? – is that a loss, or merely opportunity costs? If you had your chance to be one of the disciples and that chance came with the need or certainty or probability or possibility of violent death, would you say yes or no? If you said no, you wouldn’t be there. If you said yes, well, you’d said yes. It is only a tragedy if you look only at a constricted bit of life. But that may be said of all life. It is only a tragedy if you look from too close a focus, too isolated a field of view.
That’s taking a pretty philosophical view of human suffering.
But life involves suffering, if no more than the knowledge that other people suffer. Suffering is inherent in limited viewpoint. A small child cries over things an older child doesn’t, and a grown child scarcely comprehends.
I think of Mark Twain telling of how they had told his daughter “don’t cry over little things,” and she had asked “what are little things,” and when they tried to explain realized it was all relative, and as he said, they determined to allow her to use her own yardstick.
And so do we – which means, a part of yourselves, heeded or disregarded.
Hemingway understood this, didn’t he? He told Martha, in China, that if the Chinese people found their existence insupportable, they would have stopped having babies or lighting firecrackers for fun.
That’s right. He didn’t fail to feel for them, or to burn with the injustice he saw, but at a cooler, broader-perspective level, he understood that life is what it is, and cannot be cleverly rearranged so as to have only one half of duality present itself. Instead, he tried to experience life fully at any given moment.
Yes, I see that. And although this has been only half an hour, that’s all I care to do at the moment.
There is no schedule you need keep. You’ve done your work in public. No need to do it all again. Share what you wish, keep back what you wish.