It’s after midnight in Seattle. Rainy but warm the past few days. Still need a winter coat at night, but sometimes can get by with less during the day. And here I sit, on a rare occasion when I have good connectivity with my WiFi, wondering what my place in the world is.
Recently, I’ve been reading The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, in addition to a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami entitled Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. I remember the title story came out when I was in Japan. I often feel that part of me is still over there, and can’t find its way back, while the other part of me is stuck here, and can’t find its way back to Japan. As for the journals, they comfort me in the knowledge that such a talented writer had the same doubts that I have, and wondered some of the same things that I wonder. Less comforting is the knowledge that Plath killed herself at the same age I am now, and did far more before that age–in terms of writing and publishing–than I have done.
I also finished a book on reflexology, which was another curiosity of mine while over in Japan. I do miss those foot massages. They are offered here in Seattle, but I don’t have the paycheck in Seattle that I had in Japan. In fact, at the moment, I have no paycheck. I’m hoping that’ll change soon.
What else can I muse about? Oh right, my place in the world. I am reminded of a quote I read by George Bernard Shaw. If I remember correctly, it went like this: “Reasonable men conform to the world. Unreasonable men have the world conform to them. Therefore it is unreasonable men who change the world.” Unfortunately, I can’t say that I am that unreasonable. Maybe I will surprise myself in my writing. Maybe I will become unreasonable there.
The most difficult fact about the future is that it’s not the present. I know what happens in the present. I don’t know what happens in the future. All plans can go for nought, or something unexpected and better might come along. Or I may meet someone who makes all of my future dreams meaningless without her. Or I meet nobody like that, and trudge ahead on my lonely way. Hemingway wrote, “Man can be destroyed, but not defeated.” I think I understand what he meant when he wrote those words. I often feel crushed, broken, pounded into the dirt, yet I get up again, though my body be in fragments, and continue my quest, no matter how foolish it may be. Perhaps all artists must be a little bit like Don Quixote, and dream things which are not there out of objects which are. “To dream the impossible dream/ To fight the unbeatable foe….” That foe is life. That foe is death. We never survive the one; we never escape the other. Even Ozymandias crumbles and fades into memory, where he can no longer do any harm to the living.
One of my friends is trying to get me a government job as a technical writer/proposal writer/editor. She says it’s a tremendous opportunity. I can’t help thinking that, when the government of the U.S. is but a distant memory, when this administration has been consigned to ancient history books, my novels, poems, plays, short stories, essays, and the like will live on, much more important, and much more lasting, than any work done for any government. Good for money, yes, but creative writing is the more tremendous opportunity, the more important task.