Hazel informs me, on good journalist authority, that writing, specifically the ability to write, is a muscle, and it improves with use I would like to be more ambitious with my writing here, and I was already planning to write a two thousand-something “piece” every week. And what she said rings true with all my experiences of graft (make no mistake, I’m a grafter, not a natural sort, although some things I am surprisingly reasonable at given that I never really cultivated any of it in my youth. And reasonable is the operative word here, because I’m the sort who’s reasonable at many things but not amazing at one. Which is annoying for many reasons, not least because, again on good authority, I understand that being a successful CEO, not that I want to be a successful CEO, requires not an all-round ability but depends on a career made out of being particularly good at one particular thing, most frequently delegating).
Anyway, Hazel also said that everyone, and by this I mean everyone who writes, ultimately wants, is in the process of, or is some day dreaming of, writing a novel. Actually I once posted about how I was going to write a novel, and not surprisingly I haven’t started. And (Hazel tells me) Hemmingway said that only one page out of 90 is any good anyway, which makes writing a novel, with my generally limited free time and depleted emotional drive, sound like an awful lot of hard work. The point I suppose is that I should, or one should, just write.
But I don’t speak unless I have something to add. I never put my hand up in groups. (Incidentally, despite being 27 years old, I find myself with alarming frequency in groups where the generally accepted social practice for requesting the floor, or at least the attention of the other people in the room, is putting one’s hand up, and I don’t have an addiction and I don’t go to a self-help group.) The reason I never put my hand up is two fold: I don’t like to expose myself and the risk-reward ratio is never worth it. By exposure I mean feeling at the end of the day like I’ve said so much, piped up so many times, that I’ve over egged the pudding. A bit like the US president who goes on TV too often. What I mean by the risk-reward ratio is that if the question is easy, and assuming I am almost certain of the answer, the risk of getting it wrong (which is grave because the question is easy) far outweighs the benefit (which, inversely, is slight because the question is easy). If the question is difficult then answering it correctly is great, but getting it wrong sort of closes the door on the possibility that I could be some boy-wonder genius. Besides, whenever a question is asked and there is a possibility of me speaking publicly, my heart rate jumps, I get super nervous, and I would really rather the situation go away.
So anyway, if I’m supposed to just write, maybe I have to overcome this don’t speak philosophy. Not that this blog, or anything I write, matters. I have a pathetic number of followers, I have only exhibited a post via Facebook (the surest way to canvass your friends for congratulatory messages about how perfectly poignant and of the times your writing really is) and I don’t share this with friends or family, except Madeleine who occasionally remembers to see what I’m writing. And her patience for my longer pieces is probably suspect.
Perhaps I don’t feel like I have anything to offer. I think I can write, or at least it comes reasonably naturally (but of course you be the judge, and be kind). I think my writing style isn’t boring (however bad your writing is, please don’t let it be boring. And also don’t splice your sentences, it’s really annoying.) But it’s also an energy thing. Some dude who thinks his son is important, and by association thinks he is important, has been bombing about the world getting famous people to write words of wisdom in a notebook. When his some is 16 he’ll give him the notebook and it’ll be a great moment for his son because all the faith and sincere belief in his own importance will finally seem justified, because all these famous worldly do-gooders have taken the time to write personally to him. (My reference to “bombing” is a little misleading. This guy is actually a well-respected diplomatic so I think the whole obtaining of worldly wisdom has been a reasonably orderly affair.)
So Bill Clinton wrote some words, and these were along the lines of “enjoy every day” (or maybe it was embrace every day). Anyway, he went to add something about energy, or what at least seems to infer that you have to be energetic on a daily basis. And this theme of energy, from the having to dream big and work hard to realise your goals, to the more mundane you gotta get the most out of life every day, was one which, from the brief synopsis in the Times, appears to be a theme which resonates, or at least repeats itself, among the world’s most wise in the opinion of this well-respected diplomatic. It could be that one guy wrote an otherwise vomit-inducing piece about living your life to the MAX, and everyone else thought that if this was the tone of the notebook then I can’t really say some shit about remembering to floss every night (which, admittedly, could be taken as a metaphor for making time in life for the little things which, over time, can yield a big difference). But it could be that really successful people actually have energy in abundance and just go out there with two feet loving life and putting miserable first-world-problem guys like me to shame.
Perhaps then I need to make some changes to my life. I need more get up, more drive, and this has to be experienced and, most importantly, exhibited (because success is always in the eye’s of others, unless you’re talking about that cringy self-congratulatory success that only unsuccessful people seem to possess). But then I’ve done pretty well so far, despite my at times fairly nonchalant attitude, lacklustre emotional strength, and generally depressive cognition. Yet am I selling myself short? If this is me on a bad day, what am I really capable of?
The problem is we all have natural plateaus, and we all find comfort in snuggling into a familiar emotional disposition. So today is a Sunday. I’m hung-over. Right now the emotion I’m feeling, which is terribly, and unfortunately, so familiar, is what I call depression of the chest (the heavy feeling to the right of your hearting, weighing you down within pulling you in. Like a cancer that you have to carry but which won’t actually kill if you put enough sustained effort into ignoring it). I don’t like feeling it, but it’s there, and it feels natural. Tomorrow will be depression, but only because it’s Monday, and once that’s over things will gradually begin to look up. If shit hits the fan then sure my adrenaline will kick in and I’ll do what is necessary. But I wouldn’t describe that as energy.
It’s also my personality. Emotions are chemicals, but derived from chemicals, and probably something else, is my personality, and if the chemicals that make me nonchalant are those that help define my personality then what becomes of me if I try to betray them and tap into a different chemical complex? And is it the chemicals making me feel this way, or just my personality’s interpretation of them, and can positive thoughts produce different sorts of chemicals? All these questions are mostly stupid and pointless. I have lived with this bag of bones far too long for me to change. The sea is what it is, the good ship me is sailing it, and my job is to navigate as best I can through the blockades that I have created. Because, ultimately, these are my blockades, they are familiar to me and I’m best placed to learn how to overcome them. I think the likelihood of me being a world-recognised statesman, or friend to a well-respected diplomatic, while not beyond the realms of reasonable possibility, is fairly remote, even if I did energise my life or take the recommended dose of idealistic medicine. But the likelihood of me staying true to me is fairly high, and this is something I can control, and whatever I achieve I’ve done it in my own nonchalant way, and I’ll still retain the right to make fun of those who are far too keen for their own good.