Saturday, March 26, 2016
Reality Is an Arsonist
“As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?” David Bowie
There’s a voice in my head – somewhere near the back of the brain, behind my left ear – feverishly scolds me to not listen to those three, misguided jerks who enlighten me from where my forehead lies:
“You know you can dream it.”
“Hey now. You know you can write it!”
“Wait! Where are you going? Don’t stop writing. You know you’ve got time.”
Like in the last two weeks, when I have been genuinely busy working on my novel. I cleaned up a chapter long overdue for editing. I have only two chapters yet to be written to complete the first draft. I have had 11.5 chapters reviewed in the Indiana Writers Center workshop. I have 11.5 chapters still needing reviewed. I have a ways to go.
Yet, lately I have been looking out the dining room window near where I set my laptop and my tea; holding my cup and looking at nothing in particular. The light draws me. Maybe the fluttering of small birds around the skeleton limbs of Chinese elms and maples poorly sheltering my backyard. Maybe I noticed something unusual…in me.
A kind of fear. A protracted guilt. Or a kind of voice.
What should I be doing?
That voice knows something. Wants my attention more and more. It snaps at me from the back of my head, grows increasingly discourteous. The voice is Reality.
Reality scowls and shakes its head; points me to a door: The Room of The Evident. Reality wants me to spend more quality time there; wants me to pull my head out of the clouds, commit to more productive schemes. Reality wants me to earn my keep and be aware of the passing of time. Ignore those other voices.
When I fail to oblige and dive into my novel and blog postings, Reality sometimes grabs hold of me, especially when I begin to doubt my talent and become aware of time. Usually, I tug my arm away, take a sip of Bewley’s gone cold, and return to Gauthier’s latest dilemma in a spark of renewed energy.
Sometimes, especially lately, I don’t always pull away. I enter The Room of The Evident.
I see my desk. I see stacks of journal articles, data that needs to be calculated, figures that need captioned. Reality then snaps at me to get my attention, guides me over to my lab bench where another N needs to be completed.
Not enough time to dream.
Sometimes, I linger within the walls of the Evident, and I feel safe there. After work, Reality invites me to an adjoining room: The Room of the Mutual, where I am beckoned to spend my non-career hours just as diligently. I feel at home in the Room of the Mutual, and I feel loved. Yet, I consent to duty to my family, to the chores of the home, to family and home security.
Not enough time to write.
Or, I come home to an empty house. I’m barefooted. I turn on the TV. I draw the drapes. I fall to the couch. I hear the latest report on the bombing in Brussels. I give in to CNN. I give up to the world. I feel my eyelids collapse by the weight of reality. I feel time unmistakably burning. Reality is an arsonist. Steadily, I am incinerating. So, too, pages I have yet to write.
Not enough time at all.