Sunday, April 23, 2017

The End of the Notebook

I've been making a more concerted effort to write.  I've always kept a notebook with me, but I tried to be more intentional this time around to document the musings of my mind, to capture the world as I observe it ...  Sir Thomas Browne comes to mind: "We carry within us the wonders we seek around us." There's a lot in this little book.  I needed writing more these past few months than I think I have in years.

I wrote a great deal about the books I've been reading.  I generally move through a book in about a week.  Without taking care to write about them, it's easy to forget them.  Many lines were culled from their pages.  It helps me keep good sentences in my ears, to borrow from the great Jane Kenyon.

And there were writing risks.  I pushed myself to try new genres and step outside my comfort zone. I'm yet to arrive as an amazing poet, but I tried, and that's something.  Practice and time, like anything, will improve craft.

There are recipes, book recommendations, goals... There are celebrations and plans.  I see the early nudges that led to this enormous and terrifying leap into a new environment. I was a leading member of my school's MTSS committee -- my notes and questions and concerns and excitement are all in there.  The agenda and enthusiasm (and accompanying anxieties) for the writing retreat I hosted are there.  There are beginnings of writing projects I may pursue later. Poems that moved me scrawl across pages.  There's beauty there.

But there's a great deal of darkness in it too.  I have enough sense to recognize that this is merely a season among a thousand other seasons in life.  Some seasons are joyful.  And there has been joy, but that's not what I wrote down.  And it's not the primary emotion of this stretch.  33 is the year I've aspired to reach since I was 13.  I've always wanted to be older than I am. I think I associated age with stability and balance and the security of really knowing oneself.  I thought 33 would be the year I'd pull it all together, the year I finally arrived in myself.  I should have known better.  This year has been anything but stable.  There have been few answers and a host of questions.  In some ways, I understand myself better than I did before, but in others I am a stranger -- I often don't recognize myself and wonder who the hell this self is that showed up.  Get your shit together, I want to tell her. It's embarrassing.  I want to embrace Rilke and "live the questions now," but I've never been terribly patient. Living the questions requires so much trust.  So much faith.  Answers.  Answers inform action. That's been the hardest part for me lately.  The uncertainty.  And the wild vacillations that leave me with a sort of perpetual emotional whiplash.

It's strange to think about how things might have been different if I didn't turn to my notebook. Though I am certainly not moving into the next season with anything reminiscent of clarity, in writing I do come to recognize what is true.  It doesn't mean that what's true is constant, but the desire for truth is. And I try (sometimes poorly and misguidedly, often impulsively -- urgently and without reflection) to tell the truth.  Like Marlow, I detest a liar.  So the notebook is there to remind me of the truth, though pages may tell very different truths. As we know, the truth isn't neat or tidy.  It's often painful and ugly and monstrous.  But it's important, all the same.



I'm starting my new notebook tonight.  I can't be positive the next stage will be any easier, but I take solace in paper and pen and documented truths I can revisit.  There is comfort in that.

1 comment:

  1. Your post really moved me. So many truths, so many wonderful lines describing your notebook and writing.. I use a notebook as well, more a journal to bare my soul late at night when I can't sleep.

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