look within

Seeing persons and things not as they are, but as I am. 

I never wanted to become this way, insecure and fearful about the prospect of loving. But here today, there is hardly anything that scares me more than truly loving or committing to a person. In the morning, I feel devotionally committed to bringing the best part of myself to every interaction. By the evening, I am questioning if it is even worth the effort.

The truth is, there is a lot of internal work that needs to be done. This is why I opt out to take the sidelines as an observer. Can the work be done as a participant? Perhaps, but how much hurt will result from a rushed process. 

I don’t know where to start with myself. I have cried tears in a hopeless fit to uncover some truth, some response that will lead to more peace and courage and less fear and shame. But there is very little to show for it now. The idea is that I am living in blindness, unable to see things as they are, but only as they appear to me. 

The sun rises, according to where I am, and then it sets. See, that’s blindness, because what happens is that we are orbiting the sun and rotating on an axis every 24 hours or so. Like a big, giant spherical carousel, we spin around to see the sun then hide from it. 

It may be that my ego prefers this blindness. For a blind man, there is comfort in familiar territory, familiar anxiety, familiar pain. But returning to the past to question and potentially alter the future can have fatal consequences. At the very least, there will be unknown consequences. 

Today, he is suffering. He is me. He is sitting in his room, typing in his laptop, getting ready for a phone call with his hooded sweatshirt on and the lights of his room cut off. He is writing, and he is suffering. It hit him like a wave, and he withdrew into himself to find familiar habits. A question, has he not grown up or experienced enough of this to anticipate where he will be in the next couple of minutes? 

I was never very good at chess. Maybe, I digress. I have never had a natural aptitude for chess. I win games, and I can anticipate moves and strategies. But I never picked it up as quickly as others. The obstacle to chess for me lies in going deeper, in relentlessly asking why until I have reached a point of underestanding. I want results, outcomes, trophies before I want internal understanding. That’s why I find it hard to perform in certain arenas. 

True growth is internal. In the very first story of Hurakami’s Men Without Women, I encounter this passage: 

“The proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain. Examining your own heart, however, is another matter. I think it’s possible to see what’s in there if you work hard enough at it. So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own heart as perceptively and seriously as you can, and to make peace with what you find there. If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking within ourselves.”

And Kendrick Lamar stated this: 

“Look inside of my soul and you can find gold and maybe get rich,

look inside of your soul and you can find out it never exist.”

The story says, that we need to begin to look inward – but how? How can we when it gets so difficult to find the time? And without a very regimented schedule. Perhaps this week, I can set a schedule to meditate or at least experience the quiet within myself in the last 30-45 minutes before bed. But I am always distracted.

The promise is gold and wealth, but if you look into another person with those intentions you should find that you are an empty soul, seeking greed and personal benefit. It is in times like these, that I sort of understand that one must treat other people’s histories like those in museums. Especially, the free to enter museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. To discover, and understand, that a history should be viewed, maybe studied, experienced, but never owned. Do not touch. Do not lay claim.

Another tragic trope, see with your eyes not with your hands. And why? Because the hands that have not long handled clay will turn to mush the very essence. If you’re not good at something, it will not happen overnight. Give it time, promise to go deeper, and remain patient in your journey. 

Don’t give in to temptation. Ok, that’s enough wisdom for now. Tomorrow will be another day.

the writer who does not write

“I look up at the sky, wondering if I’ll catch a glimpse of kindness there, but I don’t. All I see are indifferent summer clouds drifting over the Pacific. And they have nothing to say to me. Clouds are always taciturn. I probably shouldn’t be looking up at them. What I should be looking at is inside of me. Like staring down into a deep well. Can I see kindness there? No, all I see is my own nature. My own individual, stubborn, uncooperative often self-centered nature that still doubts itself–that, when troubles occur, tries to find something funny, or something nearly funny, about the situation. I’ve carried this character around like an old suitcase, down a long, dusty path. I’m not carrying it because I like it. The contents are too heavy, and it looks crummy, fraying in spots. I’ve carried it with me because there was nothing else I was supposed to carry. Still, I guess I have grown attached to it. As you might expect.”

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I am a writer who does not write. The empty page leaves me mesmerized with its nothingness, and I, with my paralyzed thoughts, find comfort in doubt and non-action. Because why should I write? Would you even want to read what I write? After all, I write for you, right?

But I have found peace with what I am. Sure, I am a writer who does not write, but I do other things. I start my mornings with a warm cup of tea, and I genuinely enjoy a calm run in the afternoon. I watch basketball highlights in the evenings, and then I catch up on my favorite tv shows – Rick and Morty, Better Call Saul, and Mindhunter. As you can see, I’m pretty normal. There are not many differences between you and me, and perhaps nothing makes me unique except that I am a writer who does not write.

Of course, I think about what I would want to write if I ever did write. I have ideas: identity and the philosophy of mind have always been fascinating to me. Maybe I could write a science fiction story, or perhaps just a collection of short stories. Many authors have published terrific short stories. I can think of a few: Jhumpa Lahiri, Adam Johnson, Ted Chiang, and Haruki Murakami. Murakami wrote a book that I could very well imagine myself writing if I were to write. It’s called, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It is a self-reflective novel with meditations on sport, being, and writing. I would write a book like this if I ever wrote a book, except that I am a writer who does not write. 

But what if I did write? I could slug it out and write one page per day for the next three years. That would be well over 900 pages, enough to publish a book! If I did write and writing brought me peace and confidence, I would probably have readers. The readers would expect me to write more and… um, I guess I like my life now. After all, I don’t have to write, which is ok because I don’t write. My whole life, I have been a writer who does not write, and I wouldn’t be the same if all of a sudden I started writing, would I? Could you believe it? Me? A writer who does not write?