Monday, July 6, 2015

Frequently Interrupted

There is an old joke that goes something like this:

Q – Does anyone in your family suffer from mental illness?

A – No, they all seem to enjoy it.

I do my very best to enjoy life. Some days that is more difficult to do, but I believe that those are the days when it is also more important. Life is meant to be lived. I don’t claim to have very many Answers, but I’m pretty sure about that one. I’m also fairly certain that the difference between surviving and living can be found in enjoyment. If you are enjoying life, you’re probably living it. If you are living life, you are probably enjoying it. If those sentences do not apply to you then you are probably just surviving.

There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, by the way. Sometimes “just surviving” is the best you can do at the moment, and doing your best always counts. The trick then is to survive until you can find a way past that moment. Keep moving forward and, eventually, you will find the sun again.

That part of your journey can often be made shorter if you have a good map.

It is my hope that this might become a good map. It will be a map-in-progress for a while, though. You and I will be cartographers, making notes and sketches as we explore this strange land. That’s right. I said “we,” because we will be exploring together. I’m not about to set off into this wilderness alone. We are going to use the buddy system and help each other out along the way.

A writer writes. Most of us are familiar with that one, but here is one that is just as true, though not as familiar: A writer is incomplete without a reader. While there are some people who write purely for their own edification, they are the exception, and they are very rare. We who write do so because we have a need to create and to express, but most of us also have a need to share. Sharing requires a “we”. Don’t worry, though. This is not the kind of sharing that requires two-way communication. I will be perfectly happy to “talk” while you “listen,” so to speak. If you want to talk, that’s fine too. We will certainly have outlets for that, it just won’t be required.

I write in a variety of formats, on a variety of subjects, both fiction and nonfiction. Sometimes there is so much of that variety that I get lost in my own head and nothing makes it to the page, but there is always a flow of words running around inside of my mind, searching for the exactly right other words with which to connect and create the exactly right sentence to form the exactly right paragraph … You get the idea.

I am fascinated by what makes things tick, and with how to improve on that ticking. I can spend hours thinking about how these pieces fit to those pieces, and what would happen if you replaced a section with that other section over there. I will spin it around in my head and examine it from every angle I can find, which will inevitably lead to more questions jumping off in more directions. If you plan it right (or wrong, depending on the day) this can go back and forth almost indefinitely.

I love to write, and I love to imagine how to make improvements, but I will be the first to admit that it is terribly easy for me to lose focus and “forget” that I am supposed to be working on something. Hence the title here, Frequently Interrupted. I’ve had so many false starts lately that I’ve stopped telling people about the starts because I fully expect them to become stops before they get anywhere meaningful. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I can’t remember the last thing I wrote from beginning to end. Life has a way of happening without your permission, and interruptions are par for the course. In fact, I sometimes think that interruptions are the course. As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” We all have plans for what we expect out of life, but when was the last time you talked to someone who said that life was turning out as planned?

The universe has a sense of humor, but it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether it is laughing with you or at you. My answer to that is, better safe than sorry. Laugh right back. You may not be laughing at the same thing, but you’ll both be laughing. This is me laughing.

I write, so I live. I live, so I win. I think that’s worth a laugh or two.

I opened this piece with a joke about mental illness. While some might scold me because “mental illness is no joke,” I promise you that it is a subject near and dear to my heart. It is, in truth, a major motivation in writing this. I have my own issues (which we will be covering at some length on a later date), and writing projects of this sort are one of the methods I use to turn “surviving” into “living”. One of the reasons I haven’t been writing is because my issues have been jumping around inside my head wearing hobnailed boots. Makes it difficult to concentrate. Makes it difficult to do much more than go from day to day, truth be told. It occurs to me that if I write about this I can hit two stones with one bird (we have very talented birds around here). I’m writing, which is, all by itself, a victory, and I am reinforcing the tools that I use to get back to living. In the process, I might even help someone else. Bonus!

We will be covering a variety of subjects, but the frame of reference will generally be “This is what I think makes a better me,” and, by extension, “This is what I think might make a better world.” I like to believe that we all want a better world. We just don’t always agree on how to achieve that. We work for it, though, even if we do face frequent interruptions. These are my thoughts on the matter, crooked as those thought might sometimes be. I make the world better by making me better. I make me better by helping the world be better.

I hope you will come along for the ride. We have a great deal of exploring to do, and that map won’t fill in itself. There are many places marked with Here There Be Dragons, but I don’t know. That might not be such a bad thing.

Let’s find out.

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