Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Swimming in the Oean

When I started this blog I really thought I had a decent idea of how what I wrote affected people. This belief was based on my having misspent a great deal of my youth writing and performing comedy, which boasts a very short, very ruthless feedback loop. You are in the same room with people as they hear your writing, and they are encouraged by custom and plied by drink to let you know, immediately, vociferously, just what they thought of it. After a few years of this, you begin to believe you know how to navigate the border town between What You Wrote and What They Hear. The best bars, the darkest alleys, what you can get away with, what you can't.

But that's Comedy, and though it is much harder than what I am attempting to do here (what is that again?), it is different, and I've learned those experiences do not apply here, and I am constantly amazed by what others pull out of things I write down.

Sometimes people are very sweet with concern about this or that "sad" entry. That is always a shock, because even in the worst of times, if I sit down and start writing something, anything, about anything, and just vent it all out on the page, I invariably end up fairly chipper. There is just something about being involved in the experience of writing, some sort of interior ritual your brain needs to undergo to get words on a page in the right must use the same sections of your brain devoted to depression and worry:

"So sorry, really, but I'm afraid we're going to be needing this bit of the brain for a while...we're very sorry. Yes, I understand Worry and Depression are very important...yes...a long history and all that...right.....all your furniture...yes, I understand. And you have done wonders with the place...the dim lighting...very Downtown...It's just that somebody-and believe me, we are all upset about it-has begun writing something. Yeah. So you see... Umm, actually I'm not quite sure. It started with a date, a comma and then 'blah, blah, blah. No. Literally the three words, "blah", "blah", and "blah", separated by commas. Yes, you're quite correct, it hardly does seem worth it. Still, heh, rules are rules... We'll be sure to tidy before we go...oh, leave it? Right then..."

I'm not sure why the hell it works, but generally it does, which allows me to drop in a segue so awkward it really doesn't deserve the name, but it does relate to a post a couple days down the page. If you are reading this, and you are in the sort of place in your life, or your head, where things are really just god awful black, I can actually recommend two things, one of which easy. That easy one is to just start writing, about anything, but knowing in the back of your head that there is stuff in there that needs to get the fuck out. I actually have just written "blah, blah,blah..." over and over until something else came, or done two pages describing dogs at the dog park. Anything that gets that part of the brain going. That is some of the most cliché advice of the modern age, but it has worked for me, so whatever.

The real piece of advice I wanted to put out there, but which didn't seem to fit the previous post, is to put your body into the ocean every day. I know that is impossible for a lot of people, and sounds nuts, but as I said above, it always amazes me what people pull off this page and act upon, so who knows, maybe if I throw something in here on purpose...


I described previously just how little money the job on Martha's Vineyard paid that summer. I could have made much more in Boston, where I lived at the time. But a few parts of my life had blown up simultaneously, or, more likely, I had destroyed them, and when there seemed no hope life would ever get better, I got this job offer, which sucked, but which required living on an island. And out of nowhere some part of my Colorado-raised, landlubber head declared with complete confidence and clarity:

"If you swim in the ocean every day, your life will get better."

And the crazy thing was, it worked. I bought two swimsuits and a towel and kept them in the bed of my pickup, so one suit would always be...well, not really dry, but...less clammy. And the first day I got there, I jumped into the freezing New England-in-May water, nearly hyperventilated, and kept doing that, every day, all summer. On lazy days I spent hours in the water, on rushed days I just ran in, dunked myself under and ran back out. But I did it every day, and my life got better. There is something about being enveloped in something that--

It's like this; I would stand/float/tread water with the ocean around my neck, look out toward the horizon and think about the water touching my skin, which was connected to the water between me and the horizon, which was connected to the waters of the Atlantic, which was itself connected to other bodies of water which continued, unbroken, around the world, encompassing the entire globe. Not with a paper-thin representation of water on a map, with masses of water so deep and heavy as to never have seen light nor man.

That was a big piece of water I was immersed in. Stupifyingly so. An entity so much greater than myself that all the terrible...everything that it pulled from my head or heart or soul or whatever, as I floated there, had no effect on it. The ocean really couldn't care less. It couldn't be bothered with something as insignificant as Me And My Problems. But it did receive them without complaint and I did leave the water a lighter person each time.

So I would recommend that. Or mountains, or night skies in the country, or jumping on freight trains. Anything which reminds you how insignificant we are. How tiny, and by association, how tiny our problems. It sounds a little counterintuitive, even depressive, but you are, at the time you experience these Grand Things-even though they do not know or care, even as you experience, in their presence, your own insignificance-simultaneously a part of these Grand Things. You are among the Cosmos, you are standing on the Mountain Range, you are in the Ocean, you are on the Freight Train. And your problems are not allowed to participate in this insignificance/magnificence paradox. They just get the first part.

And that right there is a perfect example of why, when you think, "I probably shouldn't put that in," you probably

Back on topic, or at least a little more recognizably on topic, I didn't really think I was telling sad stories on this site. Most of them I find pretty funny. I do still think of this as an entertainment at best, often dipping below the line into Leisure Activity and often still farther into the depths of Something To Do Instead of What Others Expect You to Have Completed By the End of the Day. I wouldn't fill those sacred, wasted minutes with sadness. Besides, many people read this at work, precluding them openly hanging their head over a glass of alcohol, once chilled, now room temperature and watery as their eyes, which is really the only proper way to fully appreciate the sad tales of others, measuring them against your own and finding them a bit, well, trite.

So cheer up, God knows I am. Two days of RICE did a fantastic job of preparing my ankle for work today and everything went well. I taped the beJesus out of it, wrapped it in an ace bandage, put the whole rigmarole in atightly laced, high work boot and popped 3 generic Aleve on my way out the door this morning. Aces.

I even caught myself thinking, ever so briefly, about a return to the Field of Honor this a limited role, of course.

Insane. Yes. I know.

Maybe if I can get it down to a monochrome color scheme by Sunday morning...

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