After the island trip, where I sat half-clothed in a hot pool with several naked strangers, I had a few days at home before my next adventure-in-trade assignment required another u-turn of sorts: south to the Willamette National Forest.
On a sweaty slog down the Interstate 5, I paused in Portland to hand deliver my application and calm my jittery nerves with an afternoon coffee. It took me a white-knuckled hour to navigate through the snarl, but finally the road cleared before me, and just outside of Salem, I passed a sign declaring that I was now crossing over an invisible line marking “the 45th parallel: halfway between the equator and the north pole.” Continue reading To Oregon, with love
The thing that’s been great about all this floundering unemployment is that it’s helping me evolve myself into the writer I’ve always wanted to become. And by that, I don’t mean at all that I’ve become good at it. But I am writing, and that’s more than I can say for the majority of the last decade in which I merely thought about it. I have time to read so much now, which as many successful writers will tell you, is a key to being one. So I read all the authors I admire and I read unknowns that I think are going to be discovered and I write my own shitty drafts and I don’t worry so much anymore about whether they sound bad because I understand now that this is the equivalent of starting out slogging through a wimpy 12 minute mile in the journey to one day race in an ultra marathon. You have to start with the shitty stuff and be humble enough to own it and grow from it. And more importantly perhaps, you have to sort of believe that your voice matters, that you have something important to say– no matter if its funny or serious– you have to believe that it’s important even if deep down you know that it’s horseshit drivel that can’t possibly affect the shaping of the world to come in the way you want to be remembered.
Because if you don’t believe this, you won’t write. You will continually come up with reasons, from your own internal voices or from those external, real or imagined, for not writing. We may all be insignificant Carl Sagan dust specks on dust specks but that doesn’t mean we can’t invent our own relevancy. If not now, when?
Besides, I wrote this from my iPhone while sitting at Golden Gardens yesterday, while everyone else was in an office slogging on a computer. It sounded like a nice theory for justifying the way I spend my time.
The other day, I sat silently watching a moth sputter furiously at the window in front of me, trying desperately to get out through the pane of glass that prevented its flight. The delicate, mottled brown wings looked like blurred sand as they fluttered against its taunting prison walls. Suddenly, it stopped, and sat unmoving in confusion on the sill and I could see more clearly the darker lines spanning from one edge of its papery wings to the other. I imagined them as the lines of rivers crossing an Old World map, or the sediment layers stretching across the Grand Canyon to mark the passage of geologic eras. Two thin, feathered antlers protruding from the moth’s head like golden ferns navigated the air around its body but could not discern the impossible glass that held it captive. It was like a reflection of my own struggle in the previous 48 hours, in which the things I could see were quite clear and my desire to move forward was strong, but an invisible barrier held me sputtering in place, banging my head against the confusion.