… I’m trending.
So, as far as my participation in this barking.com blog goes, I’m noticing a trend.
It’s nothing overt or thunderously apparent. It’s comprised of no damning data. It’s unlikely to make a dent in the Internet reading habits of emerging generations. It’s neither a threat to national security, nor a subject of prurient interest that might be ruled on by the Supreme Court… It does not resemble the plain nose on your face…
It is, however, near and dear to my face, which has no business being saved from even the slightest of humiliating experiences. But I have observed that for several weeks now, my unintelligible musings have received zero comments. That is, 0.
Now, whether or not this lack of cyber-dialogue corresponds to a blanket dismissal of my prowess as a writer or of my genius as an aspiring artist — Ahhh! – that is beyond the scope and the purpose of this brief soliloquy. In essence, all I have to say can be summarized with a modest paraphrase of Rene Descartes: “I write, therefore I am.” Or, to embellish on this purloined dictum just a bit, there’s no one better than the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton. After turning away from a potentially lucrative career as writer, Merton became a priest, who morphed into a mystic, who eventually, in Seeds of Contemplation, understood his vocation like so:
“If you write for God you will reach many men and bring them joy. If you write for men–you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world, for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted that you will wish that you were dead.”
Merton fans, of course, may speculate regarding the sequence of their hero’s syllogisms. Why does he start with “God,” move to “men” (and presumably women), go to “world” and then to “self”? And might there be a way of doing all of the above simultaneously?
We can’t be sure. We can’t be sure why starting with the “self” may cause mild indigestion and vomiting… But it might be fun to re-categorize various modes of literature in terms of “Making Money…” or “Giving A Little Joy…” or “Making A Noise In The World…” For example, anything by James Patterson would be ______________. The Zombie Killers, currently shelved under Non-Fiction, would be what? — “Making A Noise”? John Grisham’s The Litigators may be screen-play-bound as well as unequally yoked with “Making A Noise…” And finally, when Kathryn Stockett sat down to write The Help, I bet she imagined “Giving A Little Joy…”
Am I being bitter? Am I being? Not at all. I am Non-being. Nada. Zilch. The Big Goose Egg.
I have 23 years under my ever-expanding belt as an ordained clergy-person. I’ve graduated from two seminaries, spun out of the cookie-cutter, church factory and now, at middle-age, find myself writing. But why?
Why write when everyone in the MFA program could be my biological off-spring (i.e., I feel frigging old)?
Why write when for decades I’ve produced sermon after sermon in which parishioners have either scratched their collective heads, picked their highfalutin noses or perhaps shuffled their toes out the door after finding the offense too great?
Why write when I’m trending so poorly on this blog, where only Sam Ligon will throw me a bone (and that, only now and then)?
No one should think of me or my penmanship now as sloppily nihilistic. I may be sloppy and lacking in discipline, but I have a purpose that I have neither found, nor mastered.
I know of the card game in which players “shoot the moon” and thereby set their opponents back a certain amount of points by ostensibly absorbing all the point-cards (which is typically a bad thing). Maybe there’s something like that going on. Then again, I’d have to intend to others back and that’s not in my purview at all.
Recently, I thumbed upon a poem by J. Allyn Rosser, who strikes me as a sensible and unambitious kind of bard — one that doesn’t know exactly why she’s writing, just that she has to. Anyway, in (This Line Intentionally Left Blank), after setting the stage for some improvised kind of theatre show, something called, The Truth, the second of two stanzas reads like so:
believe me we wouldn’t
have resisted anything
but the truth
so instantly and universally
yet we sat there and waited
for something else
which you could say we also got
if you count the mime’s
so she wasn’t even a real mime
probably part of what was
clearly just a performance