I must have been in high school, but I remember that night. As I lay in bed and counted lit windows on the apartment building across the street, I had this instant of clarity. I was taken with the thought that the world was large and I wanted to be aware. I even remember how I went through my mind searching for the word. Aware.
It all came back to me this morning as I was doing the dishes listening to Evan Puschak’s interview on Impact Theory. (Evan is, by the way, the creator of The Nerdwriter, one of the youtube channels I am glued to.) His version was that he saw all these things and wanted to know how they are all connected. And that’s the mother of all searches, assuming you don’t just wing it.
As with anything, once interest is established, it’s about the inglorious stage of skill building. It’s where you wish you’d deliver Oscar material but are, as Mr. Darcy would put it, so labouring under misapprehension. (That’s Bridget’s Mr. Darcy, by the way.) But then, once you’re into it for a while and peek at the heavyweights, you at least get a ball park of the game you’re playing.
I heard one of the greatest samurais alive put it as bluntly as it gets: “Keep at it and one day, maybe, something will open up.” And after a well intended beat he added “maybe.” I was in Paris, surrounded by some 1,200 aikido students, European, but well weathered. This was not a beginners class.
Oh, and by the way, with the hours that will go into it, your body, your determination, your mind may just not make it. You will ache and hurt, all for the long shot of grace falling on you. Eventually. A lot of planets need to come into alignment for mastery to live within you. It sounds gloom and doom. But once we established it’s not about winning, then it can be about doing it for the love of it.
Didn’t I say? I love building worlds. Going in, figuring them out and distilling them in crisp lines of copy. It is, mostly, a work that, if done well, goes unnoticed. The output is the show. But I am yet to find a creative who does not live with the agony of being deserted by whomever it is that whispers into our ear when we work an idea. As I am yet to find one who will not treasure it as, in Jerry Seinfeld’s words, the lighter moment of existence you want to be around.
There will be lots of how tos: listen to the same song on repeat, do the Morning Pages, immerse yourself in beauty and in as different universes as you can get, and I do all of them. Religiously. But ultimately, I’m a disciplined, well groomed organ for the vibe to resonate with. And I don’t care about winning. I care for it.
“You’ll be alone with the gods and the nights will flame with fire.” I guess that’s Bukowski for once-you-tasted-the-thrill-of-it,-there’s-no-going-back.