This morning I walked out of an office and thought about the year it has been. When I was a younger writer I fell into the trap of thinking a great piece would be if thirty-year-old me would run into ten-year-old me and they had a conversation. It is a cheap idea done ad nauseam, but back then I was cheap and nauseous.
Now I’m expensive and nauseous. So it again crossed my mind, this theme of antiquity. But no, I decided against once again falling into the trap of writing or talking to myself from a different time in my life. I stood on a corner drinking a bottle of water feeling pretty good and relieved and new, and I thought, again, what a year it has been. Just about every aspect of life from a year ago has changed, and here I am at what one group of people might call the exit of a long career, but which I have determined is the starting point of something new, be it life itself. Reboot, if you will.
But there’s no way to write about that without tapping deep into the marrow of triteness and predictability. So I went back into my books to find someone who did a much better job of it. It comes from a paper called, “On Public Knowledge and Personal Revelation,” by Joseph Zinker. It is one of those rare pieces of writing I can read and then shout, “Man, I wish I had written that. But I thank God I read it.”
It meant a lot when I first came across it in a Leo Buscaglia book, Love, forty years ago this fall, and it means as much to me today. I pass it along with gratitude for sharing these small observations and digressions with me from this View:
“If a man in the street were to pursue his self, what kind of guiding thoughts would he come up with about changing his existence? He would perhaps discover that his brain is not yet dead, that his body is not dried up, and that no matter where he is right now, he is still the creator of his destiny.
He can change this destiny by taking his one decision to change seriously, by fighting his petty resistance against change and fear, by learning more about his mind, by trying out behavior which fills his real need, by carrying out concrete acts rather than conceptualizing about them, by practicing to see and hear and touch and feel as he has never before used these senses, by creating something with his own hands without demanding perfection, by thinking out ways in which he behaves in a self-defeating manner, by listening to the words that he utters to his wife, his kids, and his friends, by listening to himself, by listening to the words and looking into the eyes of those who speak to him, by learning to respect the process of his own creative encounters and by having faith that they will get him somewhere soon.
We must remind ourselves, however, that no change takes place without working hard and without getting your hands dirty. There are no formulae and no books to memorize on becoming. I only know this: I exist. I am. I am here. I am becoming. I make my life and no one else makes it for me. I must face my own shortcomings, mistakes, and transgressions. No one can suffer my non-being as I do, but tomorrow is another day, and I must decide to leave my bed and live again. And if I fail, I don’t have the comfort of blaming you or life or God.”