What More?

What more is there to say?

What words are left to write?

You’re born from the sun,

you live with the day,

and you die into the night.

I know there are tricks in between,

but all we can do is live,

try to figure them out,

and love while we try.

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The Way Things Happen

“It’s not suppose to go a certain way, it’s just suppose to go.” — Unknown

We all carry with us expectations, for every facet of this life, it’s path and the way we envision things to go.  This is dangerous, and we know this, though the temptation of it truly does invite one in with a certain seductive appeal, one that ignites our desire, puts flame to the fuse of our strive. There is nothing wrong with these feelings of passion, pursuit, of tenacity; they are the spice of life, the feelings we all long for, work for, dream of, crave. What is wrong here however, within our blinded view of their true existence, is our naively hopeful presumption of encounter with the byproduct we believe their pursuit-of, or withholding-for, promises to provide. We hold our expectations, feel down to the bone their premature existence, surer than death of their inevitable arrival, left ignorantly vulnerable by a belief system we have curated in our own mind, made real by a psyche ran wild, by faith chanced on a baseless mirage, delusion. Expectation blindfolds our deeper need of actualization; the makings of reality, not an ideal, more convenient alternative. From actualization, further actualization is made available through our efforts; I hope you find where to direct yours. From expectation, further illusion ensues, understanding impedes, knowledge narrows due to ones dwindling view. Expectation impetuously promises everything and delivers nothing. Actualization provides the world, in acknowledgment of the way things happen no matter our feelings towards this. The way we want things to go strangles us with lies. The way things happen provides freedom in their unbiased telling, their steadfast here-ness, and in our…

“Objective judgement, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance — now, at this very moment — of all external events.”

— Marcus Aurelius

Change, As It Is

“It’s funny how people just won’t accept change.

As if nature itself — they’d prefer — rearranged…


If you have followed my writing for any stretch of time now, you will have noticed that most of my words dance with some form of change occurring in our lives (love, place, ideas, thoughts, wants, people, ourselves, etc.); reflection on how that change comes to be, observation on how it proceeds, and how it can hurt and or teach us something in its stay and its passing.

With this piece however, I want to try something else. I want to acknowledge from the beginning line that change is already set to happen, not to be shocked by this, and with this steadfastness, I want to try to be understanding, aware, welcoming and OK with that. To emulate the Stoics way of naming such practices, lets call this one: premeditatio mutatio, or premeditation of change.


I’m sitting here at my little brown desk in Beijing, China, typing away at an article that I hope to post soon, in a room that’s not mine and where I won’t be forever. I just poured myself a cup of coffee that I had heated just moments ago, and am now waiting for it to cool just enough so to drink from it. Sitting here, thinking of the words to say, only to delete a few which sounded right and then which didn’t, only to try again to maybe like their sound better and to continue on, with this line of thought and work I am also thinking of change and how I will meet it again, or rather how it is here always working, not behind the stage curtain, but apart of the same play as I, as all of us, always and forever.

I notice this now as it consumes my mind that I have always viewed change in a past tense sort of perspective. Never really having ever greeted it when it had arrived, only looking back on it after having noticed its supposed departure. And with this thought I realize that this line is wrong, but I will keep it here anyway as to track this thoughts progression. It’s not that we ever have or are even given the chance to greet change, or to say goodbye to it for that matter, either. Again, as said just a few lines up, in the paragraph above, change is always around, as active as the breath which keeps us alive, autonomic by the same nature.

This is not to say that things are ALWAYS changing, or that what we know now will not be the same as what we know tomorrow, but that little by little things are in fact ALWAYS changing, never stagnant, no matter the efforts of our wrestling with them to be here always, never to budge, never to fade.


The coffee is cooled enough now to drink it. A connection comes to me. The cooling of the coffee in a way describes what it is I am trying to say. The coffee cooled, just sitting there, in the same cup I had poured it into, without my influence and without my tampering. It changed, though not drastically or even visually noticeable to the degree of my vision, right in front of me as I was sitting here thinking of how to proceed with this piece, only moments having passed. And, not only did it cool, but it decayed, spiraled within its confines, sent steam into the air which faded, heated a circular area of the little brown desk of which it sat upon, became sweeter or more bitter due to the origin of it contents and the influence of the environment it now occupies, and so much more, again only moments having passed.

And, as I scan around the room at all of the inanimate objects surrounding me, none of them are the exact same as they were only moments ago. It sounds crazy I know, but it is true. I may not notice the changes visually, I may not be able to touch the changes or taste them, or to hear their movement, their transitioning from what they were to what they are, onto what they will be, but not one thing in this room, if left untouched, if not tampered with or influenced, would remain the same forever, and that shows further what I am attempting to say. Everything, all of this surrounding us, down to its biological level, is constantly changing, from one form on into another.


There’s a little bug in front of me now just weaving and hovering through the air only a small height above my desk and all that is positioned on-top it. And now that same bug is gone, away from my visual field. He could be behind me for all I know, because he is not making enough noise for me to hear, doing the same thing; just hovering or weaving. Or maybe its tired now and taking a rest on my shoulder, on the TV behind me, on the clothes rack, on anything. I look back. I don’t see the bug. But, I do see the city outside through my window. The bug is back. And now gone again. I look outside the window again. The world is moving. The cars seem to be gliding silently atop the road given that I cannot hear their rumbling-along from here, through the single paneled glass window, from this distance. Through that same window still, I see the newly sprung Spring leaves of the trees waving with the swaying wind. The bug returns, still weaving and hovering. Leaves again. A cough that I’ve had for a few days now barks, then fades. The coffee even cooler now, I notice as I go to drink from it again. I hear the person in the room directly behind the wall in front of me click his lights; on or off I do not know. The little fridge behind me to my left creates a noise. The bug returns. Gone again.


I left my desk for a moment and just returned, the thought of all this still with me. I’m going to move on now from noticing and attempt to get back to thinking.


Again, things don’t change as drastically as we expect them to. Not all the time at least. Sometimes they do, and we notice those, the big ones. They hurt us. Maybe some excite us. But, either way, they force change because we notice them. We don’t notice the smaller ones. The every day subtle changing of things largely goes unseen, unnoticed, unfelt, unbelieved. And because of this, when the big ones happen, though they have always gradually glaciered towards being, they catch us by surprise, and again they tend to hurt us. Some excite us maybe. Either way, they are demanding change, which they themselves will abide, but which we tend to argue with, reject and resist, and claim victim to their “harassment”.

This has always been my relationship with change. Though I myself, and others in my life who know me well, believe me to be open, understanding and even courageous with the changing tides of life, and though I am, maybe more so then I am not, they have always bothered me, changes.

I am unashamed to admit this. Even the exciting ones. Not just the ones that hurt. I’m a human and I like to know my surroundings. I like, and strive, to have some sense of comfort and security, gathering “resources” and stock piling “abundance”, whatever form that may be for the time and place and purpose, because they promise loyalty and steadfast protection. Even living a life thus far which disproves this, which has both shown and thrown me into states of scarcity and limitation, deprive and unknowing (I’m grateful for this ) we believe having protects us from the transitioning of things. It doesn’t. It never will.

This is not to say that having more so than not having doesn’t provide any type of benefit or worthwhile promising of pursuit for, but rather that having or not having, either one, doesn’t protect us from the every day subtle changing of things, and on towards their subsequent perceived-to-be colossal transitions, from what we know now onto what we don’t. With or without, nothing protects us from this.

But, is there anything about this that we need to be protected from? I think this is a better question to be asked and to be examined.


Premeditatio Mutatio, or again, the premeditation of change. In other words, the practice of noticing the subtle everyday changing of things, and the attempt to understand that things will not always be the same. Anything. Nothing.

Nothing which we as a species have monumentally constructed (cities, walls, infrastructure, systems, etc.). Nothing the world itself with all of its controlled and relaxed might has provided (terrain, environment, weather, resource,etc.). Nothing which the mind has attempted to maintain and or progress (religion, science, understanding, reality, etc.). Nothing which the universe itself contains (space, matter, limitation, unknown, etc.). Nothing about the vehicle which is our body nor the conductor of this vehicle, which is our mind. Nothing about anything remains the same, besides the only truth which has yet to be disproven; the changing of things.

So I revisit again, is there anything about this that we need to protection from?

I’m going to go close my eyes for a little while and allow my mind to just be. I will return to this later on.


It’s the next day.

I’m sitting at a coffee shop I have come to frequent quite a bit lately. The sun is burning the back of my neck as my head casts a shadow across the screen and keyboard of my computer. I like it here and I like this feeling. I won’t go into line by line detail of what I am about to share, but sitting here aware of it now, it is amazing, truly, just how many things have crossed my mind, have come and gone and influenced, since the beginning of this piece just yesterday, just about 24 hours ago exactly now.

Another example of the movement of things. Nothing is stagnant, even when they seem to be. Our thoughts, our beliefs, our understandings, everything which makes up the integrity of our contemplative consciousness, even this is in constant movement. Thoughts repeat, beliefs aren’t easily budged, understandings fight for their footing, but none are able to withstand or to go against the evolution of every moment, of everything within the confines of what we know as life and its moment by moment evolving. And, time doesn’t just evolve, but it fleets and it also continues. It may fleet for us, and for other living creatures, due to our ultimate demise, but time itself fleets from nothing. The mere fact that we will die, and that time will continue on its usual course, again supports the reality of change. We die, time evolves, and this is all manipulated in a moment by moment evolution, onward from now on into something else.

To regain traction, to get back to my proposed question from yesterday, I do not belief there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.


I stopped typing this and am just now revisiting it two days later, now. I am no longer at the coffee shop, but back at my little brown desk in the room I currently live. I had nothing else to say that day, but I feel now that I do and I hope to finish this piece and to move on to another, or to other projects of mine I need to work on.

To continue…

I do not believe there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.

I started reading a new book which I purchased just a day ago, ‘Awareness’ by Anthony De Mello, and in its reading came across the following quote:

“The first reaction is one of fear. It’s not that we fear the unknown. You can’t fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear. “

It’s a powerful thought and its deeply true.

I am not, and I am sure the same for you reading this, afraid of what is to come. In the past I never was, and currently in the present I still am not. I was however, and again I would bet the same for you reading this, afraid of what I had lost, of the understanding which I had before the changing of things; of myself, of my environment, of others and of anything which made up my consciousness of which I was aware. The future doesn’t scare me and never has. Again, its always been the idea or the actual transitioning or realization that I had lost or had moved away, been pushed away, pulled away, fallen away, from a place of understanding, from one of knowing, to a place without either, and was scared to turn away and to proceed without them.

Another quote stuck with me from my reading:

“Because if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

Yet again, powerful and deeply true.

By attempting to keep things the way they once were, our understanding of what is is unable to be. By yearning and focusing on what has been, we remove any possibility of understanding and of knowing what is. By hoping they still were, we are blinding ourselves from knowing that they are no longer, and of what is right now, this very moment, this existence.

But, what leads us to not wanting things to change? Why are we so against these transitions?


“All of our miseries are nothing but attachment.” — Osho

If there is nothing to fear in the changing of things due to our ignorance of what is to come, and if the past is an ever fleeting place of which we have nothing physically to grasp on to, attachment to once was is where our agony, our anxieties and our fears are born from.

Simply put, we hold on to things that once were but no longer are…

… and I do not know exactly why. I am sure there is someone out there who understands with greater depth the mechanism in our brain behind this, but I myself do not have the answer. What I do somewhat know, whether it be backed by proof or not, is that somewhere within our thinking brain, we are able to turn away from this and to cast our focus towards the ever present now. And, in my experience, this is done by noticing more of the moment to moment changing of things. By being more aware of the transitioning of life from one moment to its successor, and so on.

But, how?


Days have gone by now. I didn’t finish this piece by the first deadline I had set for myself. But, here I am, back at my little brown desk, sitting here drinking a perfectly tempered coffee in the morning hours of a clear-sky, Beijing day (I’m grateful for this). I have other places to be soon, but I want to be here now, working on this, so I am and, well, here we go.

Just above I stated that I didn’t have the answers as to why we hold on to things from the past, and I still don’t. I’m not necessarily looking for a version of this answer either at the moment, or even for the finishing of this piece. But, reading a post from a writer I like, which had within it a link directed to another post, a New Yorker article titled, ‘The Possibilian’, a piece by Burkhard Bilger focused on the near-death experience of David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and author, and what it taught him about the mysteries of time and the brain, I stumbled upon ideas which invigorated me to return to this thought.

“Time is this rubbery thing,” Eagleman said. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” 

It’s an amazing article, one with great depth and a variety of insights, one which highlights topics ranging from near death experiences to a theme park ride coined SCAD (Suspended Catch Air Device) sending people free-falling from ungodly heights somewhere in the middle of Texas, from drummers and their superhero sense of time to the great Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan and how he gathered intel from throughout his empire. However, though it does not directly deal with what I am attempting to say within this piece, again, it did invigorate me and by doing so provided me with more knowledge to attempt to piece together and to say. What stuck out to me the most, with this work-in-progress held within my mind, was the concept of time and how we perceive it in certain moments.

Another quote:

“One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala, he explained. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Re-read that last line. Here it is again:

…The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Though the piece at large and the quote above are speaking of time in terms of life-threatening scenarios, I believe this same phenomena could serve in our favor towards the awareness needed to acknowledge the moment by moment changes we are constantly subjected to, but also usually blinded to, and by doing so, lead us in the direction of better handling and experiencing the thing we all seem to fear the most; change.

Another quote:

“The best example of this is the so-called oddball effect—an optical illusion that Eagleman had shown me in his lab. It consisted of a series of simple images flashing on a computer screen. Most of the time, the same picture was repeated again and again: a plain brown shoe. But every so often a flower would appear instead. To my mind, the change was a matter of timing as well as of content: the flower would stay onscreen much longer than the shoe. But Eagleman insisted that all the pictures appeared for the same length of time. The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them. The shoe, by its third or fourth appearance, barely made an impression. The flower, more rare, lingered and blossomed, like those childhood summers.

Re-read the bolded line above. Here it is again…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

Hell, read it one more time…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

I’m not going to attempt to speculate here, or to turn these words or these findings into something that they are not. I’m not looking for a far out connection here. Instead, I’m saying something that we may all already innately know, which the example above proves, but which we are too lazy or too tired, too distracted, too asleep or too dead to apply the energy or the will needed to experience life in a different more engaged, more aware, more understood and accepted way, to tap into our moment by moment existence as it is rather than what we believe or wish it to be.

Simply put, life requires our attention. The more unfamiliar we view our lives, the more information our brain writes down, and the more slowly time seems to pass.

But, how do we make our lives more unfamiliar?

Remind yourself constantly that you know nothing, then look around.

I just did this right now while writing and I already feel more emerged from my smug sense of knowing and engaged with the vast and unknown world around me.

Try it, now…

Did your perception change?

If you say no, you’re lying to yourself. Or, you’re just not aware. You’re not ready to be awake. You’re still asleep in the dream of knowing.

Keep trying.


But how does this apply to change? What is it exactly I am trying to say?

I started this piece unknowing of where exactly I was to take it or where it would, in the typing of its words, take me. All I knew from the beginning is I wanted to view change as inevitable, or rather as infinitesimal, as occurring moment by moment despite our awareness of its activity. Having gone back and re-read each line, from beginning to end, I notice that I have attempted to fulfill this action by bouncing back and forth between thought and observation, thinking and simply looking. And, after having reached this point, what I believe at this moment is:

Time and change are indistinguishable. Inseparable rather. They are identical twins. I might reach to even say they are conjoined twins. Or, two deeply harmonized lovers, maybe. Whatever the correct analogy may be, either way, two separate phenomena, however entangled with each other and dependent upon one another for survival, for harmony and for continuance. They move together, running along the trail of eternity. Running isn’t right. Dancing I believe is. Running implies their movement to always proceed linearly. This has been disproven, both in time and in change. Both are plastic. Malleable to the forces, emotions if you will, of life. Running doesn’t explain this properly. Dancing does. Twirling, spinning, stomping, jumping, leaping, pacing, strutting, waltzing, stepping, toeing, etc. Their coexistence is a dance, a dance however which wouldn’t exist without their conjoining. Without time, change impedes. Without change, there is no marker for time. Time is tracked, noted and observed by the changing of things. Change is seen only in the passage of time. Given their conjoined coexistence, they are subjected to the same laws of nature, most notably our ability as a species to attend to the world around us, to provide attention to the workings of a mechanism. The soul of the universe (time, unknown, infinity, space, understanding, etc.) is in constant flux, infinitesimal change, and so to its body (matter, nature, inanimate objects, living creatures, us).

How can we experience this awareness?

The more attention we pay to the moment by moment account of our lives, the more detail our brain notices, and the slower time seems to pass.

So by relation,

The more attention we pay to the moment to moment changing of things, the more detail our brain notices, and the greater our understanding of change becomes.

Change, as it is, not what we believe or wish it to be.


…So hard to move on when you’re down in a hole,

Where there’s so little a chance to experience soul.”

— George Harrison, The Light That Has Lighted The World


I’ll probably revisit and revise this piece again someday. But for now, this will do.

I have nothing to say here. This is only an attempt to break a horrible, inactive writing streak…

I haven’t sat down to write in a while. I haven’t been able to find the words. They just haven’t been there lately. I’ve had nothing to say and I don’t know why. And, well, this is my attempt to break that streak. Bear with me. I don’t know where this may lead…

It’s not that I have been lazy. I keep a pretty rigorous schedule with most things in my life, writing usually being one of them. But, again, lately, I just haven’t had anything to say.

ANYTHING. NOTHING. NADA. ZIP.

And, again, I don’t know why.

As I write this now, and as I force to the forefront of my consciousness, reflection upon why, I still don’t know why. It’s as if my brain just hasn’t made connections lately. Not in the world around me, not in the people, not in nature, not in anything.

I’ve never felt this “blank” before, if you will, when it comes to writing. And, as I continue to think of it now, I don’t think there exists anything, any one thing even, causing this. It’s just what is lately.

I have nothing, for no reason, to say.

And, as a writer, as you can imagine, it’s not a great place to be. I love writing. I love how challenging and how raw it is. I love words, simply, put together, even if the words today aren’t. I love emotions from those words. I love reactions to those words; mine and the readers. I love messing up, becoming frustrated by it, and trying again. I love thinking I’m done, to only catch myself fooling myself, and then forcing myself to start over, to keep on, to earn it. I love writing, and I love all that comes with it. There’s more there, but no need to push it more. If you write, then you know.

Anyways, even now, as I continue on with this unguided attempt, I’m still having trouble finding the words. I don’t like this as I write it, even. I hate even the way it sounds. But, I do like the feeling of my fingers, typing away. The noise of the keys. They sound confident in themselves, though I know their conductor to be not. Not in these words. Not in this attempt. But, whatever. Confidence at times is overrated. Sometimes, you just have to show up and try, confident or not. Or whatever other driving force you call it, or not; Confident; Courageous; Impassioned; Angry; Sad; Stupid; Whatever. Sometimes, the feelings don’t matter. You just have to show up. And, again, that’s what this is. I’m just attempting to show up today.

I think I may have found something here. Isn’t that the case with life. Couldn’t that be argued. That your feelings don’t matter. At least not all the time. Because, no matter what, you just have to show up. You have to wake up, everyday that you are given, and you have to show up. For yourself, for others. For your craft, your vision. For anything. For everything. Even if you feel that you can’t and that you won’t, you’re only fooling yourself, because you will, no matter how you feel about it. You still must wake up and face life. There’s no hiding from that. For now, its not going anywhere, and neither are you. You must show up. You will show up. You have no choice in that.

Don’t be narrow minded here. I’m not talking about showing up to work, or to class, or to anything given a specific place or goal. I’m talking about showing up for it all. For whatever life is, that moment. Every moment. Again, YOU CAN’T HIDE FROM THIS. Even if you tried, where would you go? Is your mind not still with you? Is your body not still intact? Hell, even drugs can’t take this away. Life is the force of it all. The provider. The creator. The do all be all, of it all. I don’t mean to get too grim here, but maybe even death doesn’t provide retreat. Who knows. I don’t know. And, I won’t act as if I do. All I’m saying here is, you’ve got to show up. You will show up, no matter how you feel, prepared or not, ready or not, whatever or not. You will show up. There’s no hiding from life.

Showing up by choice does feel better, though. Even now, I still hate this piece. I hate the words I’ve thrown together. I hate my lack of direction here. I still hate the way it sounds. But, I chose to show up, and I chose to try, and I chose to stick with the attempt. And, for that, because of that, I feel better. I feel here.

I’m going to post this, unedited. I will not go back and change anything about it. Not a word. Again, today, this was my attempt at showing up, and it serves as proof to myself that I did. Unguided. Unconfident. Without excitement or anything to say, even. But, I showed up. I tried. And, again, I feel better for having done so.

P.S.

An interesting practice for any of you self-proclaimed writers out there. Just show up. Write whatever. Even if it sucks. Even if you hate every word. Could be an interesting practice for anyone attempting anything out there, really. Just show up. Try. Even if it sucks. The act of doing is a very powerful thing, no matter the outcome.

Behind That Door

There’s so many things in my life that repeat.

Maybe for yours, the same.

I’ve been there before.

I’ve felt that way.

I’ve seen where this leads.

I’ve experienced that pain.

Maybe for you, the same.

I know what’s behind that door, but I keep opening it.

Most moments I know I shouldn’t. That could be a fool. But it only takes one.

I usually fall for that moment.

No matter how much thought, how much hesitation. I fall for that moment.

I open it again.

Sometimes its me knocking on the door. It’s not always answered. It’s not always ignored, either.

Other times I hear the knocking. Sometimes I’ll answer. Other times I wont. I’ll ignore it.

But again, it only takes one. One fool. One moment. And, that door’s open again.

And, I know what’s behind that door, but its open again.

It’s not all bad, though. It’s not all good, either.

It’s not all the same. It’s not all different, I’ll admit.

The first step back tends to be different. The first gaze makes it all seem foreign.

I think we want it to be. I believe we need it to be.

Then, you notice what hasn’t changed. Not everything does. Most of it, yes. But, not everything.

I believe we want it to be. No, I think we need it to be.

It’s not about the changes, though. It’s not about the things which remain the same, either.

I don’t know what its about. I’m tired of guessing. Something invites you in, though. It is welcoming.

There is a home to it.

And you fall for it.

Maybe home is what its about. At least a sense of it.

A gypsy’s mind yearns for that, too.

A traveler’s body.

A sailor’s devotion.

An artist’s attempt.

A carney’s hidden sorrow.

A soldier’s sacrifice.

All the same. They yearn for that, too.

At least a sense of it.

But, I know what’s behind that door, and its open again.

It’s not that, though.

It’s not that, anymore.

It’s not even yesterday, anymore.

Not yet tomorrow, but, not even…

this…

… anymore.

This becomes that.

Now its not even that, anymore.

I’m not even me, anymore.

Not the me from before.

Maybe a sense of it.

Maybe for you, the same.

Maybe a sense of it.

That could be a fool.

So much uncertainty.

But, I know whats behind that door.

That could be a fool, too.

No.

I know whats behind that door.

But, there’s those moments again when I don’t.

Maybe I’ve forgotten. Maybe I’ve wanted to have forgotten. Maybe I honestly don’t know anymore. Maybe its all a lie. Maybe I’ve lied to myself. Been lied to, maybe.

Maybe we all have.

Maybe we all do.

No.

I know whats behind that door. But, its open again.

But, I’m not asking why no more.

No expectations.

No thought of how come. No wonder of what if.

They come back around, I’ll admit.

But, I know them now. I know their presence and I know their stay, and I know neither are very long. Not anymore. Not as long as before.

I never expected to pass through here again.

I’ve learned that too; I’ve learned that to be a fool.

I was just looking for what was looking for me.

No. That’s a fool. I was looking for anything.

I never expected to pass through here again, though.

But, here I am.

Again.

The first step, different. The first gaze, foreign.

I know what’s behind that door. Do I, though?

There are similarities, though. And, there are differences, too.

I know what’s behind that door, but this one?

I’ve been there before, but not here.

I’ve felt that way, but not this.

I’ve seen where this leads, but not end.

I’ve experienced that pain, and I will again.

Never have I felt like this before, though.

And, never will I again. Not exactly like this. No, not ever again.

Not exactly like this.

There is no door. The whole damn thing a fool.

There’s only this. That from before. And then, maybe, there’s more.

We’re all exposed to it.

Subjected, rather.

Behind that door, no longer I hide.

My mind no longer blind.

Blocked.

Closed.

Shut.

That could be fool. It only takes one.

There is no door, though.

There’s only this. That from before. And then, maybe, there’s more.

Behind that door, from my mind, no longer I hide.

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

How did you come across the book?

… I have no idea! I don’t remember. Probably… graduate school? I may of come across it… oh, you know what… OK… I remember, sorry! This was recommended to me by Rob Spillman who’s one of the editors at Tin House News, also a sometimes professor at Columbia University in the writing program.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Ooh! Um… I feel like I have to pull my notes out! One of the biggest takeaways for me, because this is a book about essay and memoir, its about personal narrative, and one of the biggest takeaways for me is that an essay is exploring a topic through the lens of the narrator’s persona, whereas a memoir is exploring the narrator’s persona through different topics outside the narrator. And so, that really gave me a lot of perspective on my own writing and in ways that I could kind of come at the self obliquely through other topics.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend it to somebody who is probably a later writing student, or an experienced writer. The first time I read it, it went over my head a little bit, and so, I’m not sure that it would be helpful for many people, but, there is a great reading list kind of worked into it because she goes through all of these different examples of essays and memoir and personal narrative in the book. But, I’d probably save it for somebody who’s stuck on their current writing project.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

How did you come across the book?

I actually heard of the writer himself first from a friend of mine. He recommended to me a commencement speech from the same author called ‘This is Water’, and after reading that I decided to look at a couple of his fictional works because I prefer fiction over nonfiction. So, I read his first novel, which was ‘The Broom of the System‘, and umm… because I kind of liked his style I decided to go on to this one because it’s known as his magnum opus, and so… a lot of people sing high praises for it, but a lot of people also kind of criticize it for being so lengthy and just kind of like rambling, but I think that it will be an interesting read.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I mean the thing is… more than a perspective from the book… like from the information from within the book, I think it’s teaching me something about being a reader, and I think it’s… it’s making me realize just how, I guess… how much more I have to read, or how much more I have to experience through reading itself, because… it’s like I’m reading the book, and I’m like going right to the dictionary because I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know what this means, I don’t know what this means!”, I think that just… it’s also kind of… it’s kind of really an awe-inspiring feeling knowing that there are so many writers that are just so talented. I’m actually majoring in English so I… I’m like… perhaps looking forward to publishing something in the future, but just knowing that there are geniuses out there who can use diction so freely… and such complex symbols or analogies with… ease… it just… it really humbles the reader. So, it’s teaching me a lot about just how much work I have left to do.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… I think… so, I did say that I read a previous book of his, ‘The Broom of the System‘, but I also read a series of his essays… just really recently; it’s called ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again‘. What I’ve heard from people is that… because this is quite a lengthy book, unless you’re really invested, or unless you’re really curious about the author or the book itself, I think that you’ll find it really difficult to continue reading it, because I find myself sometimes struggling through a page but I’m just like, “OK, I know what to expect from the writer”, because of his previous writings, so I’m kind of looking forward to it no matter how lengthy it is. So, I think if someone were to get into this writer, I would recommend his essays first… and then I would recommend maybe reading ‘Infinite Jest‘.