I am sitting in a park as I write. There is a waterfall at my back. In front of me, the white flowerheads of a Crepe Myrtle sway in the evening breeze. The quiet places are best found outside; outside of structures and one’s own self. I depend on these quiet spots to escape being and write more and more. If I were a better writer then there would be no need to say anything at all. No considerate soul should want to be defined by the sum total of their lines written, promises printed or apologies typed too late. At least I don’t. The idea of being a man sitting alone over his journal musing in a late summer field, barely noticed and quickly forgotten, is a much more attractive memorial.
“Eternity is in love with the creations of time.”- William Blake
The last six months have been timestamped by memorials. In that time I have attended four funerals. Two for aunts. One for an uncle. And one for a member of my jiu-jitsu family who took her life. In art, there is the principle of the vanishing point. As space expands into the distance our perception narrows until the horizon, the future, is a singular dot, almost imperceptible but touching all.
But the future remains the garden from which we reap. An anthology featuring a story I wrote last year was covered by The Times of London and the BBC. After months of serious revisions, I submitted the final draft of my novel Dream Kids which will be released in March next year.
Oliver Sacks in his engrossing book Hallucinations attempts to provide a taxonomy for the same. In his work, he details Charles Bonnet syndrome, considers whether religious revelations such as Joan of Arc’s can be attributed to front lobe epilepsy, mines near-death experience, and psychedelic states. One of the conditions he details is autoscopy in which the afflicted see a copy of themselves, an identical twin. Though most often they realize that this immaterial doppelganger isn’t real, is not them, they frequently continue to interact with it. They pull out chairs for their double. They order it a drink. This is the best metaphor I have found to illustrate what it is like to edit a novel you finished for the first time six years ago. It is you. You can see it vividly. And it is not you.
“…But if a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the Muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection but are utterly eclipsed by the performance of the inspired madman.”- Socrates, quoted in Plato’s Phaedrus
Now while the sun sinks I am sowing different seeds. I spent most of the spring and summer working on a new novel, one I am proud of and will finish, but I began to stall. I wasn’t burned out, but more experiencing a diminished sense of wonder. I wanted to play, and surprise myself. That’s the project I’m deeply invested in now.
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young
If you read this I hope you are well, and able to steal away into your own quiet places. I also hope you are taking risks. Even if you fail, cradle your failures and appreciate we are most human when we fall. Everyone looks better with bruises.
Oliver Sacks Hallucinations
Listen to this:
Lul Kadhim “Amber Dark and Sickly Sweet” from Lightspeed Magazine
I’m stoked to be training with the Dasiy Fresh crew from Pedigo Submission Fighting in Kentucky next month. If you don’t know their story you can check it out here.