Stella: A Meditation

I’m going to be honest with you right away: I seriously want to make a pun and/or reference to A Streetcar Named Desire or How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but I’ll refrain. I promise.

Welcome to my mind. It’s not the most coherent piece I’ve written, but coming as a form of meditation, I’m surprised it took shape the way it did.

 

  1. Monkey Mind

 

It’s been over a year since I started this blog. A lot has happened. A lot is happening. My first blog was on the snow storm that hit Baltimore. Jonas kept me from going to work, and left many, including myself, without power. Recently, if you’re reading this and you’re not in the US, the blizzard (snowstorm) known as Stella came through the East Coast. They really played her up. I mean, meteorologists were terrified, claiming that places could see up to 20 inches, which some did come close to. Baltimore was supposed to get hit hard as well. People were losing their minds about the Biblical proportions coming our way. Bread, milk, toilet paper, and water were disappearing from store shelves. Businesses closed in advance, but the statements proved hyperbolic, to say the least. Then little happened. It was such a major difference to the one that I started all this with. It reminded me of it though. So, I thought I would reflect some.

I try hard to challenge myself, write every single day, but still keep it all together. I am not always successful. Yet, I’ve learned to forgive myself, move on, and try again the next day. You might be surprised, but I really like writing. I love the arts, which are in jeopardy as we speak, er— read/write. Well, they are in the U.S. at the moment anyway… So, Stella. Right. I was talking about that, and how I challenge myself. That’s another reason I write these blogs, not just because I wanted something to keep this site active. Although, that was one of my original points for this blog.

When I started this, I was writing my book. I was in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore, working full-time, and losing my mind. I’d say the only thing that’s changed is that I graduated so I’m no longer in the program. I still see and spend time with many people from there though. Of course, I’ve also lost touch with some, but such is life. Makes it easier to write about them though, if I’m being completely honest. Albeit, I’m still working a job and losing my mind. I still have copies left from the original printing, with all the overlooked mistakes that have been pointed out to me by obnoxious readers. Relax, my first self-publishing gig isn’t going to be perfect. Mistakes are inevitable. Not that there were a lot of mistakes… Anyway, it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come and how far I want to go.

You see, my current problem is being dissatisfied. I’ve accomplished a lot. A book was on my bucket list. Now, I’m trying to write another (this one is nonfiction) as well as promote the one I have and attempt a chapbook (poetry). It’s still not enough. I’m tired, but I’m restless. That’s why I’m keeping this blog going. That’s why I’m still writing.

Besides that, I have a fear of contentedness, because if you’re not trying to improve yourself, your work, then you’re not better and you’re probably not staying the same either. You’re in decline. Most people who enter states of contentedness and inactivity begin this process of atrophy without realizing it, because you can never really stay the same, even if you want to.

The metaphor I’ll use which may or may not be considered an apt metaphor: It’s like being on fire but never burning up.

Yeah, I’m kind of like that one bush that spoke to Moses only less well known. Like a lot less well known. Like a minuscule portion of the world’s population are aware of me and I don’t exist to the rest.

Digressing again.

You know what I didn’t do when my phone went off at 5AM on a Tuesday to let me know that work was called off? I didn’t write. I wrote some eventually, but that’s not the point. I went back to sleep and woke up several hours later. Greeted by stifled sunlight, I peeked out my bedroom window at what remained of just a light covering of a few inches. It was sleeting at that point. The chatter of fragmented ice pattered on closed windows that lead me to breakfast and coffee. Still, I didn’t write. I watched some videos online. I listened to music. I got ready for a day inside, but I didn’t write. I read a book too.

I waited all day to write, a day I had completely free to do whatever I wanted.

Looking back, I’m disappointed in myself. I don’t regret spending the day enjoying myself.  It was necessary. And I probably wouldn’t do it differently if I had the chance to redo the day. Says a lot. Says nothing too.

I’m at a point where I don’t know if this is problematic or not. I feel like it is. And there’s the issue.

I know you can’t work all the time. I mean, you absolutely can, but burning out isn’t helpful for creativity. At least, it isn’t for me.  In this case, back to the metaphor, if you’re a burning bush, it’s important to know that sometimes it rains. Can’t be on fire all the time. Anyway, when I can’t think, I can’t create. If I’m exhausted, rather than tired, it’s a lot like trying to pull the world out of nothing. It just can’t be done. Not by me. There’s a reason the phrase, “burning the candle at both ends,” is still notoriously negative. It means you’re hardworking but also too hard working. Also, more fire metaphors…

Side Note: How would you keep a candle like that? You couldn’t place it in a candle holder, that’s for sure. Do you have to hold it? That sounds painful. But it bring nuanced meaning to the phrase. Wouldn’t two candles not only be hold-able, but burn twice as long? You see each side of a candle burning at both ends would only have half a candle of light a piece, if that. Totally inefficient.

I did it again, didn’t I? Been tangential a lot lately, more so than usual. It has to do with working on too many things, a lot I don’t even want to be a part of, but work that pays is work that pays. I hope someone reads that and nods knowingly to themselves. If you did, we should be friends. If we’re not already friends, I’m sorry. I have a lot going on. I said that already…

In Buddhism, the term for a mind like mine is Monkey Mind. It’s an uncontrollable, capricious mind. When I’m not doing anything, it wanders.  The overactive mind is great for creativity, as long as you can reign it in and manage to be productive. With all my passion that’s a difficult task to perform. Stella made that painfully obvious. Of course, I only realized that after the fact. That’s normal though. It’s similar to having a great comeback to some insult hurled at you a week ago.

It’s been cold on and off, blue skies, chilled winds. Blooming pear trees blossomed white, now turn decaying brown. I try to notice nature as best I can. It helps me to clear my mind, calm it. Helps the writing. Long walks. Presumably, we won’t have most of current nature for much longer, which is another reason to cherish it. One day we might only know constant, ravaging snowstorms, or forget what snow looks like. Then I’ll be trapped inside and unable to write. Maybe a year from now I’ll be experiencing something like that. Hopefully not.

 

  1. Where to?

I’d like to think that I’d keep this blog going even if I were to venture somewhere, anywhere. I’d keep it going, if not for my readers or potential readers, then for me. And if someone should take something from it, all the more reason to continue.

I am going somewhere. At least, I think I am. I have a few pieces being published. I also should be having a reading coming up in May. I’ll post about that more when everything is made more certain. A couple chapters have been written for my next manuscript. I’ve even been reading and finishing books for research purposes. This is still not enough, and I have to discover what is for me. Most people have to. Most people reach their twenties and figure out what they want to do, whether or not they can do it, know more of who they are, and somehow calm down a bit. No thank you. I’m 28 now. I feel like I should know more, but I’m ok with that not being the case. I’m aware that most people are in a similar, if not the same, situation. It’s oddly reassuring.

By the time you’re reading this, it will be April. There’s more sunlight, rain, and heat than there have been for a while. More birds singing. More time that can be spent outside. Less time to write. More time to be frustrated. Probably more readings too. I won’t be able to do everything I want to.

I hope that you can do what you want to do, within reason. Dreams are less achievable for many than they have ever been. They can still be reached, but the times have not changed for the better. Despite this, it’s important to not give up, especially if you’re an artist. It has never been easy. It probably never will be. You may not end up the kind of successful that you want to be or feel you need to be. Do not let that take away from what you are doing. Do not allow that to diminish your passions. Although I know it happens to many of us.

I’m thinking of leaving Baltimore. I think that every year. And every year I realize the security in my job that helps me pay the rent and allows me to have health insurance. Every year I have some health concern or private matter that needs to be dealt with first. Every year there is something. My own fears are constant. How do you establish yourself somewhere new, especially as an adult? It’s a big decision.

There’s also the fact that I kind of like it here, despite some things that have happened and a lack of employment possibilities in my field. In the arts, there’s a lot happening in Baltimore. Plus friends. Some of whom have already moved on to other, often bigger things or are on the cusp of doing so. If they can do it, why can’t I? In other words, there’s nothing stopping me except the occasional snow storm.

 

 

 

To Whom It May Concern/Reader:

 

I would like to thank you for reading this blog. Whether you have been reading from the beginning or just started with this one, I appreciate you and your literacy. Welcome all! For those reading into what I said in this piece, do not worry about future content as I will continue to produce it for the foreseeable future. I mean, I believe I said that more than once anyway, but you can never be too sure. I do ask that you please continue to support me in whatever way you can. I will do my best to share what I know and what I learn with you. I will also keep everyone who is interested up to date on all my writing and art related activities. Again, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

 

Yours,

 

Nathan

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