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"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." ~Jack London

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blind Spot

"But you don't want to fall back into "oh I should be writing" only to stop again," she said. The intention behind her words wasn't cruelty and I didn't take as such. I knew what she meant, that this blog had served it's purpose, but now it was time to move on. Yes, forcing myself to write out of some self concocted obligation is pointless. It produces meager results and creates unnecessary guilt and stress because I allow it to. Each time I return to this, or a journal left half finished on my shelf, I feel the need to excuse my lack of writing. I apologize to this poor blog, to those poor journals, to myself. It's so useless.

Driving from school to work yesterday, I came within inches of being side-swiped by another car who was changing lanes. I must have been in his blind spot. I honked and swerved and let out a single curse, and then, just as quickly, was back in my own lane, breathing again. In that single moment I felt angry and relieved and unnerved and sympathetic. I looked at the man in the car next to me who was most likely feeling all of those same emotions simultaneously with me, and some part of me wished I could tell him that it was okay, that we all make mistakes, that we're okay, here, breathing.

I drove past the stadiums that I've stood inside so often, enjoying concerts and sporting events and the company of various different friends. I drove past the airport that I've flown out of and back into on all of the beautiful journeys I've embarked upon in my life. I watched from a distance as a plane moved through a snow covered field, only to suddenly lift from the ground and make its way toward the sky, smoothly, effortlessly, as though at any moment the buildings behind it might follow. I drove past the shipyards and the Delaware river, glistening in the first sunlight that had appeared in days. And yes, it's silly, but for a few moments in time I was deeply moved by where I was, in the world, in my life. I make this drive three times a week, but I have always been focused on the drive, on the road, on the cars. I forget that I'm driving through the city, through my city, through my history and my present.

And just as easily as I had become aware of my surroundings, I noticed too, that I was writing in my head. Perhaps I am always writing, and just not noticing. Perhaps it is like the way I live my day to day life and forget where I am, in the big picture, in the important ways. My life has become so full and I have trained myself to tune my mind to "now I am at school" becomes "now I am at work" becomes "now I am at home," and everything else goes unrecognized. Everything else is in my blind spot, which seems to grow larger as the responsibilities of the day to day increase.

And then one day, quite unexpectedly, something swerves toward me and wakes me up. It is that feeling of opening your eyes to only then realize that you've been asleep. It is not noticing the room is dim until someone turns on an extra light. "Oh," you think to yourself, "why was I sitting in the dark?"

I think about the night I was the saddest I had ever been and took out my journal to write through it. I think of the way when the power went out, my friends lit a candle for me to write by. And when my pen ran out of ink, they found me a pencil. And when the point of the pencil broke, they found a knife to sharpen it. And so I continued to write with my jagged pencil in the dimness of the room, surrounded by some of the most caring people I have ever known. And I felt better by the time the candle blew out. I felt comforted by the selfless acts of my friends, but even more so by their understanding of how much I needed to write. They could see in me what I saw in myself. I needed to write to be okay, here, breathing.

"But you don't want to fall back into "oh I should be writing" only to stop again," she said. I think of her words all this time later, and while I understood what she meant, even then some part of me didn't agree. It's most likely while I still remember that line after all this time, having forgotten the rest of the conversation. This blog has served a purpose in my life, but it isn't finished. It continues to sit and wait, often very patiently, for me to return. Like all writing, which is as much a part of me as anything, it is here when I need it. It is sitting in my blind spot, waiting for me to see.