Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Starting is Simple

A peculiar blankness erupted in my head. I had plenty of things on my mind and they were doing a fine job of destroying me. But now at the prospect of being manifest outside of myself in spoken words all the troublesome bits rushed together and jammed in my throat. They became indistinguishable, lumped together into this vague statement:
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“If I had to guess I would say nothing,” he said. “You are doing nothing, at least, nothing meaningful.”
Snip by snip I dissected the blankness, and sip by sip the whiskey added its light-headed clarity.
“That’s right.” I realized for the second time today.
I thought about it hard and shot my whiskey. With the drink gone quick my face was free from the interruption of drink and adopted a very serious look.
“Don’t strain yourself, bud.” The man said. “What are you good at?”
“Good at?” I wondered, “Well, good at nothing. I’m okay at a lot of things.
“How does a guy get good at nothing and okay at a lot of things?”
I thought about it. I thought about all the things I wanted to be good at but never invested the time in. All the things I had tried out and moved on from when I lost interest. Drawing, making movies, traveling, writing.
Writing - that old thing. I remembered I used to feel I was good at writing. A game with words, you switched them around and pared them down and blew them up then pared them down again until they were simple and honest and true and expressed complex things in tiny ways. How they piled up on pages, details heaped on details. Straw words patiently placed on thatched pages. I thought about how easily my own bastard ego put the torch to my words one day when faced with the mortality of being average and how I never wrote since. It was the same with art. It was the same with a lot of things.
“He gives up.” I admitted.
“Damn right he gives up.” The man said. The man could be described at that moment with certain good words. Strong healthy words. Vim, moxie, gusto. He gulped his beer down with hearty enjoyment. Then other words seemed to seep into him and without any pep at all he turned his eye on me and said sternly. “Any dumb ass who gives up shouldn’t claim it like people should pity him.”
“I don’t want people to pity me.”
“You pity you.”
“Hell, well there it is.” He said with beer foam still on his mustache. His large hand wiped it away; again it did its disappearing act into the whiskers.
“Yeah. There it is.”
“Where’re you from?”
“Me? I’m from everywhere.” I said, and at that moment it felt that way. “My job drags me all over the U S of A and the dust of me is left all over the damn country. No, really I’m from California.”
“You don’t like the travel?”
“I love the travel.”
“But it’s a problem.” I didn’t know why he was talking to me and not only that but listening too. So I talked. It felt like I needed to and I was working through it myself.
“It’s a distraction. You can’t think I’m fine with being no good at anything. I was on a bus today to the Indian Reservation and back, driving through the country. It’s peaceful. Not a lot happening aside from hundreds and thousands of rocks and horizons of cactus surrounding the flatness of dried up lakes. Small houses, clouds like I can’t believe. Damnit. It reminded me of something. Times change, things change. There was a feeling on those roads I haven’t felt since I was a kid. A feeling that used to exist in my hometown. A real weird sensation. Feeling that again was like starting over from a time before distractions when everything was fresh and the whole world was open to me. I still can’t figure it out.”
He stood up and dropped some cash on the table. A tip for the waitress. He was leaving and I found myself not wanting him to. The small connection I had made with the stranger disintegrated.
“Figure it out.” He said. “Figure out what you are passionate about then go for it. But first have another drink.”
Then he left.
The waitress brought me a fresh whiskey and collected the tip money left on the table. I tasted the whiskey and this time I noticed that it was good. It’s simple, I thought. Starting is simple.


Mind Of Mine said...

I haven't had a chance to stop by and read for the past couple of days, my most recent post explains why, but I am still awed at your ability to write such a good narrative that I feel like I was there, like I was a part of it. Such a wonderful technique.

LMB said...

Thank you for the kind words.