Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Letter to Myself

People write very infrequently these days.

And by that, I mean that they seldom take ink to paper - there’s still a fair amount of digital writing going on. <cough> On...err… other people’s blogs. Or so I hear.

On the recent brass band trip, I brought along a journal. I have many notebooks that I collectively refer to as my journals, but the organization is lacking. That is to say: I don’t really have a system of organization. I usually grab whichever one I lay hands on first, regardless of when the previous entry happens to be dated.

And by a fun coincidence, the notebook I grabbed for this trip happened to have a first entry dated almost a exactly a year previous. I started writing just after I purchased the volume from the hotel sundry shop. I sat on an incredibly ostentatious couch in the historic lobby in Cincinnati and started writing.

And a year later, I sat in the not-at-all ostentatious lobby of the Holiday Inn in Grand Rapids and started writing.

It was late in the evening when I started writing. It usually tends to be late, as I write partially as an antidote for the day’s confusion. It forces me to slow down and think in a straight line - something I tend not to do well when I’m bothered or stressed. It’s like self-medication, except the only risks associated with an overdose are pale skin and paper cuts.

As is often the case, the people who passed by expressed bemusement when they see me writing:

“Are you taking notes? Har har!”
“What, suicide already? Har har!”
“Why are you doing that?”
“Did I mention ‘har har’?”

Some passersby say that they used to write, but don’t anymore - rather like the stories people tell me when I mention that I play a musical instrument (“Oh, I played flute in, like, fifth grade.”).

And let me say now and for the record always: writing a blog doesn't make me a better person. I still have exactly the same number of flaws and virtues as I did before. It doesn't mean a thing, other than having slightly more pieces of paper in my life than an average non-writer. I think it helps me focus problems and life, but it doesn't always do that for me, so its actual capability to accomplish the things I attribute to it might just be in my own head.

And still I write. Even as I write out my frustrations, the subtle sounds of pen scratching across paper calms me. It’s a very quiet sound: the drone of the refrigerator engine from the hotel quik-stop covers it for any distance past the twelve inches to my own head.
On this day, I had twelve long hours to stew in the bus, with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. I used to try to write on the bus, but it means too much frustration to attempt to keep the lines smooth and even as the bus bumps and jars its way down the roads. The calm that I seek stays away me in such situations.

Invariably, looking back at entries provides valuable perspective. It’s the Me of the past, writing to the Me of his future. Sometimes the reflections are honest, but some of the time I lie to myself. How fortunate, then, that I remember the truth. The truth in this case is how I behave going forward. The current Me remembers it because he’s still in the process of living it.

Sorry, got all metaphysical and wishy-washy there! If you need a palate-cleanser, go back and read the script in the hero photo for this entry. Hmm, I think “palate-cleanser” is an incorrect term.

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