Category Archives: Self Reflection
The other day I was talking to my wife about my struggles with writing. I wanted to submit some short stories for a publication but I was having trouble coming up with things to write about. She asked me a very sensible question: “What do you want to say to the world?” I thought about it, and only one answer came to mind then, and I still don’t have a better one:
I feel drained, hollowed out. Not all the time, of course, but it’s my default state now. Some days are good, some days are bad, but the common thread through all of them is a bone-deep exhaustion. Not exactly the kind of thing that a reader is dying to pore over. There’s good reason for it, of course, just like there’s a good reason for the depression, the feelings of powerlessness, the nagging question of whether life’s mundane responsibilities like paying bills and worrying about a credit score is worth it due to an occasionally overwhelming existential crisis that’s part and parcel of our every day.
Warning: This post is probably as personal and serious as I’m likely to get on here. It won’t be very funny. It will, however, be genuine. You been warned.
Father’s Day is coming up. For many people, it’s a day to give their father a suitably crappy gift and give the old man a hug. I see a lot of ads and sales and heart-warming hey-ain’t-Dad-great stories and I think that’s pretty cool. For a lot of other people, Father’s Day means not much at all. There’s a load of deadbeat dads, kids who don’t have their fathers in their lives, dads who abandoned their kids and whatnot. For some, Father’s Day is a reminder of someone who abused and terrified them. Not such a great place to be.
My first encounter with Christopher Hitchens was when I read a piece of his on Slate, a left-leaning website I browsed because it tended to concur with my own opinions. It was shortly after the attacks on September 11th, and during the run-up to the possibility of war in Iraq. I was against the idea of the war for many reasons: one, because it was an attack on those who weren’t responsible for the attacks on U.S. soil, two, because it put our soldiers at risk, but most importantly for the third reason, which was that I didn’t think our country had a plan for what to do after the inevitable victory against the Iraqi armed forces. I was convinced we would be involved in a long period of nation-building, a morass with no end and no tangible sign of Victory in sight. Most of the pieces in Slate agreed with my own opinion, which is of course why I read it, because nothing makes us feel quite so smart as reading words which we already believe.
From last Wednesday (June 29th) to the 4th of July, I was on vacation. The purpose of that was mostly for a wedding on Saturday, one in which I was both the best man and also the officiant (which means I performed the ceremony – I’m a minister don’tchaknow). It also included my birthday and a BBQ blowout party for friends on Sunday. That’s why there were no posts here, why I wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook much, and why I didn’t read my personal email.
My birthday was good – low-key, the way I like it. Marking my progress to old age isn’t something I revel in, and I absolutely hate getting presents from anyone who isn’t my wife so low-key works for me. My wife is the greatest person in the world, and not only because she buys me books and toys for my birthday. That last part helps, though.
I’m struggling today to do just about everything. I’m struggling with forcing myself to work. I’m struggling with making myself write (although I did pen a little addition to “The Space“, a small scene which has wedged itself into my brain and refused to let up until I wrote it down, so I did and will be updating the story as it’s posted here just after I finish this). Hell, I struggled putting up a blog post. I wanted to put something up (probably related to some interesting programs I watched looking at the Old Testament through the eyes of a military historian which absolutely fascinates me, but evidently couldn’t be less interesting to everyone I’ve tried to talk to about it over the last few days), but struggled with what to say and how to say and if I’d offend anyone with it and wondering why I care about that at all and blah blah blah. Instead I’ll just write what I’ve been thinking half-heartedly about this morning. Read the rest of this entry
I just read an article on Slate about the beloved Choose Your Own Adventure series of books, and it made me think about those days of school book fairs and curling up in my room with the latest one, Forbidden Castle or Deadwood City. I was probably 8 when I got my first one, and it was like the first hit of heroin for me. I suddenly had the power to choose where a narrative went – my decisions suddenly mattered. What was going to happen to me? It was intoxicating. Read the rest of this entry
There are a lot of perfectionists in the world. Perhaps you yourself are one of them, or know someone who is. Many famous people are perfectionists, especially artists of all stripes, honing their craft or whatever they are working on, striving for exactly the right sound or feel or look. Take Ralph Ellison. He wrote Invisible Man, a highly successful novel that was judged at one point as the best American novel since World War II (world wars being the demarcation point for literary eras, apparently). That was pretty much it. He published a collection of essays, but he was too much of a perfectionist to ever finish the sequel to his novel. He apparently had over 2000 pages written when he died, but wasn’t close to finishing it. He was even unsatisfied with Invisible Man, a book so remarkable that I didn’t entirely hate every word of it when I was forced to read it in high school (have no fear, I didn’t read all of it, but the parts I read weren’t excruciating like most of the rest, but especially Moby Dick and The Scarlet Letter, oh, and The Red Badge of Courage, god how I hated them). I can picture musicians being the same way, tweaking individual notes and sounds until just the right sound emerges.
What a horrible-sounding way to go through life.