Thursday, November 29, 2012

I remember when I had standards. That was a good day.

Poor neglected blog. If I had a little more rage and a little less self control, I'm sure I'd write more. Or if I had more discipline and creativity. Or more gratitude and gentleness. As is, I have been too apathetic these days to do much of anything but exercise and tweak my grocery budget. My body has never looked so good; neither has it ever seen so little action. 

I have been avoiding writing in all forms these days. It takes me weeks to write letters to my friends, even when they offer me up letters like gifts, sending bits of their hurt and heart and love when I've done nothing to make myself worthy. I address the envelopes and stamp them and tuck a piece of paper or a note card into the flap of the envelope and then I carry them around for weeks meaning to write a little note. There are some I've carried around for nearly two months. What could I possible have to say to these, my brilliant and busy and accomplished friends? 

I haven't written a dissertation word in over a month. I have a reading assignment currently. I have discovered some things that genuinely help my project. I have thought to myself, while reading and reflecting on those things, I must write this down; if I can freewrite this, I'll think it through; there's a connection I can make and it's close to the surface. it will come if I just write it out. I haven't written it out. Any of it. I've talked a little of it out. Thought about it. But worked the ideas through my fingers onto a keyboard? No. I can't bring myself to do it. 

I can't take up the long-ish books I need to read because I can't (so it seems) focus on anything of length. Oh, except for Anna Karenina. And The Complete Father Brown
 
I have been instructed (by my voice teacher who, except that his middle name is Torquemada,* is actually a nice guy) to make a habit of doing vocal exercises every day. This is not a new idea, of course. I mean to make a habit of meditating every day. Of writing my dissertation every day. Of reading for the dissertation every day. I mean to make exercise a habit and not a quota--to trust myself to work out on a regular, reliable schedule and not to bunch up workouts because I've slacked, or to dread it all day until I actually begin and am pleased. Now, on top of all the things about which I already feel guilty, I have to add the vocal exercises (which are challenging; I am not good at them). 

I laughed, though, when it occurred to me that I have been instructed to do what I want to do, and that about which I am, in a sense, writing. At the core of my thoughts about ethics is the idea (not an original one) that  what is most important are the tiny small things that one does regularly. I am being told to pay attention to what I am and what I do, and there is no difference between attending to silence and attending to self or to aspects of self (like vocal health). I can't attend to silence if I can't attend to the tiny ways that I sabotage my efforts at creating rituals, routines, and habits: to what am I paying attention if I can't or won't pay attention to myself? 

I've lumped things like "reading" and "writing" under "dissertation" or "academia" so regularly that all reading and all writing feels like a chore because I associate it with the reading and writing I am not doing and must do. In this way I have slipped into lethargic apathy. "Singing" is not part of that lump. Now I have only to begin everything again, tiny bit by tiny bit. I feel like a Taoist master. But ask me again tomorrow. 

*But not in a bad way.

2 comments:

cindy said...

I love the honesty of this post, and the loveliness of your language even as you write about not writing. Small things, small things, I agree.

philosophotarian said...

:-) Thanks, Cindy. Your writing, I need to say, really builds me up (will you post the sermon you wrote/gave?). I wish we had hung out when you lived in chicago!