The Purpose of Purposelessness
My Blip Journal is nonlinear and not a guide to getting published, but a simple meditation on living a writer’s life with the requisite need for balancing interaction with others and solitude -- it’s not always easy. For people who are predominately performance artists, and in this category, I include everyone from Hip Hop artists to comedians, the balance may lean more toward socializing than being alone in a garret writing the next day’s performance. There would be exceptions, as in any rule; in this case, I am thinking about Mitch Hedberg, one of my favorite comics. Hedberg probably spent a lot of time alone, but I could be wrong. I know nothing about his personal life except that he succumbed to his drug habit.
There was a great article recently in either a psychology journal or The New York Times about research studies showing the importance of daydreaming and how ’spacing out’ reduces stress and recharges the brain, so I will blame the aforementioned studies for my verbose meander.
The nice thing about writing is you, the reader, can choose to move from this page whenever you desire and blot out my noise, unlike when you ride the train with a loud preacher. I haven’t seen the Jamaican preacher lady, wearing a housedress, black socks and open-toe sandals, who screams at subway readers about our sinner status and how Jesus is set to come back to punish us all, in months. I hope she’s alive and well in a safe place, but I don’t miss her. Negative reinforcement never worked for me.
Creating Distance and Craving Space
I rode my bike for a couple of days from Brooklyn to Inwood in Manhattan and through Harlem to meet friends, and to avoid close proximity with fellow humans on trains and buses. I was craving the ability to feel space around me; wide streets in Harlem and quiet residential ones in Brooklyn provided a respite from our daily overcrowding, overhearing and overseeing -- the too muchness of city life. This is not to say I am asocial, but sometimes, in a crowded city, you crave a little distance from others in a public space. In this unwritten contract into which we enter by living in the city, we agree to ignore the obese woman who squeezes in the seat next to you, radiating heat comparable to a small combustible engine, and the cab driver who doesn’t turn on the air conditioning in his cab and works 18-hour shifts, and fully inoculated against his own funk, he doesn’t notice the parting of the waters everywhere he goes, and then, there is the biggest failure of humanity: how we abandon the mentally ill. It is, sometimes, heartbreaking to watch mentally ill people on the train who appear to not understand where they are or even who they are. The other night, I saw a man in his sixties with one glass eye. His finger appeared to be freshly broken in two places with deep cuts still bleeding. And he stared into space calmly with the one eye he had left. He was short and had a clubfoot -- a Dickensian character. I accidentally wandered into what his past and childhood may have been and soon stepped back because my heart was flooded with pain. It is always difficult for me to consider how we cannot save everyone in the world and questions about why some people suffer so much arise like a different kind of stench.
But I digress. I am on the train right now headed to the Republic of Brooklyn and there is no one sitting on my right or on my left. It will be a great day.
I am working on a collection of essays about work entitled Work Chronicles to be published as an e-book on Smashwords in November; in the meantime, you can check out my creative nonfiction essays Latinalogue Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part I and Latinalogue Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part II: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/69697
Writers, be careful not to die of exposure.