Coming back from a break

18 August Friday 10:30am, Chicago.

I have put aside blogging for a long time now. It’s like most things. I take an interest in something, I put in some effort, and then I put it aside.

How do I make things a part of my regular life? Is that something that I want.

Actually, yes. I would like to exercise regularly. I would like to do a spiritual practice regularly. See friends. Write songs. Produce writing.

Other things: well, I guess they come and go. Sometimes after a short while, sometimes after a long time. I am right now thinking about getting rid of my guitar. How could I do that? I learned how to play “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills and Nash as my first song when I was sixteen. Guitar seemed a smart solution to wanting to play music but a piano not being mobile. I developed quite a repertoire. I would play with other friends – we all learned because we were all part of an outdoors program where it was a cool thing to do. Sadly, we all knew exactly the same songs, and learned the exact same strum.

I took my guitar playing to college. One night, I wandered around the campus, singing out to the stars and trees, and likely annoying or worrying anyone who could hear. I played at university too, and wrote songs madly during some years. I played on stage. I recorded my songs on tape cassettes; a few of those recordings had as many guitar songs as piano.

Then I moved to Europe, and although I brought my guitar, no one else played. No else knew the same songs. The echoey sounds of my electronic piano seemed to suit the moods of the cobblestone streets of Brussels, and the leafy streets of London much better.

I also brought my guitar to Australia. I don’t think I’ve touched it since. It hurts the pads of my fingers of my left hand to play. I can’t quick strum or pick like I used to. I’ve forgotten how to play not only other people’s songs but my own as well. I don’t live in places big enough to store an infinite number of items that I hang on from my past.

So, there is a conflict between which activities in my life will become regular practice and what parts will leave. My colleague, David, a dear friend and a wise man, constantly reminds me of how humans tend to hang on to a concept of forever, and particularly in terms of relationships, that often it is best to let them go when they no longer have use or are functional. Everything changes.

I think one aspect of blogging that I need in my life, and will continue to need, is that I have lost a regular way to post my writing in a public way. The constant flow of stories and of small publications have stopped, really. But the urge to write and express is still there, blunted though it may be of insecurities, other priorities and some alchemy of weariness, worldiness and cynicism.

A small reason for stopping blogging was that the excitement and activity around my new book, Six Positions, took over. I may not have been expressing myself through new writing, but I was promoting my older writing, my older expressions made new again were being put out into the world into a new form.

Another reason is that my friend, L, who was writing a beautiful blog about her life in Japan stopped with hers. She knew she would be leaving for London and the format of the blog, the thoughts, the need, all seemed to belong to being in Japan. It was a practice that started in one place and did not, at least for now, translate to being in another place. I loved her writing. It was infused with both wonder and loneliness, two of my core states (and perhaps with our shared understanding of them, a reason why we are close friends.)

They reminded me, too, of when we first shared our writing with each other, at sixteen and seventeen, two young writers-to-be. It was never competitive, but her writing did inspire my own, as I hope mine did her – and her blog was certainly the spark that started this one.

So, now here it is. I’ve started again. I’ve broken the silence. Or the block. Or the break. Or whatever it was. But there’s no promise that it will continue, nor worry that it will not. It is what it is. It seems so tired and clichéd to speak in those terms, the archetypal confession that age makes one let go of a whole host of things: expectation, neuroses, delusion, attachment.

And yet that is one lesson that is more particular to me than to most people – to allow myself to be like other people, to focus less on my differences and not need to be original and unique, to try and let go of judgement, of others and myself if it feels like my life is the same, rather than different, from everyone else’s.

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