I have been, for as long as I care to remember, a great lover of delays.
When I got my order at a restaurant, I would sit and wait for a bit, relishing the here-then-gone murmur of an empty stomach. When taking change from a transaction, I might slowly raise my hand to take the feathery bills – bills in one hand, coins in the other; this would irritate whoever was at the cashier, but I did it anyway – rather than rush and grab. When needing to make a crucial decision, I might hem and haw for days, until the opportunity to decide had passed altogether. I do not doubt my life would look much different without this particular delay.
But I saw these moments as something akin to exercise. These were not fragments to hustle through, aiming for the great years ahead which would see my repose. I never wanted to do any physical activity for the sake of relaxing afterward. However satisfying the exhausted respite was, there seemed to be a deep good hidden within the practice itself, within the flying sweat, between the sharp inhales and measured exhales. And this hidden good was outside the stretch of calm.
Peace was an ocean that would have drowned this good, which needed the open air.
In this way, I felt, action needn’t be made always with purpose, for there was purpose in action alone, in itself.
To do was truth, I suppose. I don’t know what I’m talking about.
And I finally realized recently, that I don’t understand what any of that actually means. I’m in a time of relaxation, I think; relaxation from schoolwork, from pressures I had engineered against myself, from oppressive consciousness of self, from the constant needs of my body. And for once, I appreciate this relaxation for what it has come out of – that is, the struggles that had taken me so fully these past few years.
Without these pressures and struggles, I have had to redefine what matters, what makes art and life meaningful.
“Love” is much too simple a word to host that which it represents. I feel that “art” and “life” are similarly inadequate housing for their tenants. But while there are no other words to use, I let them be. So far, the tenants have not spoken up about this apparent problem.
But why beat a dead horse? Why rehash the same thoughts, the same ideas, the same struggles? Why lament lost love, celebrate discovered, contemplate imagined? Why describe the way a tree bends with wind, over time developing a stoop like some decrepit skeleton; or the smell of jasmine flowers, spreading their fragrance and their blossoms like so much good news, or cancer?
Who hasn’t experienced these things to some degree, that still has yet to hear of them? Who needs a writer to enlighten them anymore? Isn’t everyone sick of eloquence? We seem to be sick of almost everything else.
Ultimately, I believe I am realizing that I don’t write for anybody except myself. I write for my amusement. It is simply fun. If it says something, grand. But if it doesn’t, who am I to say that? And who are any of us, if it says something to one person? If each of us truly cannot be valued (and I believe that, still), then none of us can reproach another for being touched by any literature of his choosing.
My writing is as selfish as it can be. I describe things around me, and I enjoy hearing from other people, about what they like and don’t like, but I don’t feel that anything they say is really going to affect me or the way I put words on screens or paper. I do not feel that many other people would give a damn what I write. And what I do, well, that’s to be seen.
I am cynical. I’m going to find out in the next few years, I think, whether I want to be.
But I am NOT going to relish inaction for its own sake, nor drag my hand slowly across the page or keyboard. No delays for this. I am not self-conscious in that way anymore. I will write whatever I feel like writing. I will not enslave myself to public opinion.
And the irony behind this is that I’m posting it on the internet. I hope that comments come in, otherwise there won’t be nearly so much.