I had the strangest thought yesterday. I was driving home from the gym, all sweaty and endorphined by my treadmill run at the end of a hard workout. Traffic came to a stop, I was sitting at the light, looking up the hill ahead of me. I had been thinking about e-mails, both answered and unanswered, and suddenly I thought I could just stop DogPoet.
Relief and fear rushed through me, filling all the empty caverns, fighting for territory. Relief that was like getting to put your clothes back on after a long physical in a very cold room; I could just…shut up for awhile. I could be quiet and thoughtful and let those thoughts take their natural course without broadcasting their every move like Howard Cosell. I could just…be me for awhile, and fuck the demands I place on myself to keep posting. It wasn’t such a strange thought, I mean most people don’t keep weblogs. Most people share their inner lives with their friends (if they’re lucky), not with cyberspace. And most of us have seen plenty of bloggers come and go, all with reasons of their own.
But then fear, of losing something. Of disappointing people. Of slipping back into that no-writing state; the state of emptiness and frustration. Of losing touch with the people I’ve met through DogPoet. Of losing the opportunity to meet even more. Of having nothing to look forward to when I boot up the computer. Of being, well, too normal.
DogPoet has arguably been the best thing I have done for myself in the last year. My sobriety, which came a year before, gave me DogPoet. Showed me how to take each day, and do a little something with it; write a little, ruminate, see what happens. Don’t aim for the novel, the book, today. Just…a little, here and there. Stretch the atrophied muscles, play with language. Vent.
There’s a funny little voice that plays behind my days when I’ve been writing. A voice that accompanies me everywhere; to work, to the gym, to the grocery store. Sometimes it is very quiet, sometimes it’s all I can hear. It’s a voice that constantly pours itself over the events of my life, attempting to find a language to contain and articulate them, a way into each experience. Like hands wrestling with a Rubix cube, it spins experience around, twists and turns it, trying to make it all fit. It feels a little like madness, but a divine madness.
During those six years that I was “blocked” there was no little voice. And life wasn’t nearly as entertaining without it. I don’t want to give up that little voice. I could write and not post it; but I know myself, I know I need little tricks to keep coming back to it. DogPoet is a pretty good trick.
I didn’t think this many people would be reading me when I began. Well, maybe I hoped. But I grew into it, as I grew into the blogging community, as I found kindred spirits and heroes and exchanged my first awkward e-mails with people who seemed much cooler and more self-confident than me.
I think that thought, of stopping, wasn’t the voice saying it’s time to move on, to try something else, to grow into the next phase of life. It was a cop-out.
It’s been hard to write lately, very hard. I’ve learned not to rely on inspiration. I mean, yeah, she’s great, but inspiration is a flakey bitch who shows up late and takes all the credit. Some of the best writing I’ve managed this year has been the result of sitting my thick-skulled, defiant self at the keyboard and forcing myself, in fits and starts, to pound something out. All the writers I admire give the same advice: write. So I’ve tried.
This is what’s happening: I am slowly, very slowly, waking up to a world, one that has always been there, but that I am just now seeing: I am rubbing my eyes and blinking in a state of mute awe. I don’t know how to write about it. Words are failing me. It has something to do with flow, and synchronicity, and all sorts of touchy-feely words like that. It’s feeling, in my gut, the connections between me and other people, some of them very new but so…perfect, in their own strange, particular ways. Connections like cords tying me to certain people, glowing cords that you can’t really see, at least not by staring at them.
It is something about everything starting to feel right. It is about sitting down for a simple cheeseburger dinner with a brand new friend and finding ourselves, two and a half hours later, laughing, finishing each other’s sentences, leaving a big tip for the scruffy-faced waiter. It is losing sleep one night, realizing that one of my sponsees in AA isn’t growing, he’s stagnating, and realizing that I needed to get out of his way, and let him find the right mentor. And it’s realizing, after hanging up the phone with him, that it’s all okay, it’s great even; it doesn’t mean I’m not a good sponsor; it means I’m growing up. It’s knowing without a doubt that I am the right guy for my other sponsee. It’s ending a friendship that took more out of me than it gave, and even more it’s standing my ground, when the old Michael is cringing, wanting to smooth everything over, willing to sacrifice the truth just so everybody feels good. And it is about finding someone who doesn’t live here but who accompanies me everywhere, walking with me, driving with me, eating, watching, laughing, fucking. Someone with his own art, someone who turns it all on for me. Someone who meets me halfway on everything, who doesn’t run away from the strange shape of my anxious, wheezing heart. And not knowing where we’re going or how to write about it, but knowing enough to quit worrying and enjoy the thrill of the ride.
I’ve always wanted DogPoet to feel right. I don’t know what the right DogPoet is for me, now. But I know that I’ll never figure it out if I just stop. I gotta keep it up, I gotta stay in the game.