Studying Buddhism on and off and getting my ass kicked in a major way in an accident has brought the concept of now to the forefront in way that reminds me of a Smiths lyric, “sweet and tender hooligan.” That song is about a brutal hooligan that gets a light sentence; but, that phrase on its own evokes a pulling between two things that are not supposed to go together. That’s how I feel about my lessons in the Now.
Admittedly, they aren’t lessons I have fully learned or embraced because I tend to while away too much time with electronic devices, frittering away valuable hours better spent with human and/or animal companions or working on one the many creative projects I have started. I am in the middle of reading This is Running for Your Life by Michelle Orange. I checked it out at a bookshop and realized that for the first time in probably 20 years, I felt the need to own a book so that I could mark it up. I haven’t underlined or put comments in a book in years. I’ve kept a notebook that I jotted notes in when reading something thought provoking; but, actually underlining in a book? No.
The first essay has given me the sensation of being found out. It’s like a drunk friend at a party who talks too loudly when asking you about the hook up you had with your ex.
I fear not having it in me to care in that same way about the latest tablet, or to develop strong feelings for what amounts to a delivery system, or to imprint sense memories on a soon-to-be-obsolete aluminum slab. Which is to say I worry less about being left behind than not wanting to board the party bus in the first place.
This, my friends is the juggle I do on a weekly basis. Throw in another ball called curiosity and you see that at some point it will all come crashing down. I’m a librarian and not an old school one. I’ve actually had the title of being an emerging technologies librarian. I tend to balance being an early adopter (smart phone) and laggard (gaming systems, television related innovations, tablets, twitter/social tools). Reread Orange’s fear. That is my fear: that ultimately, at some point (my own tipping point) I will not care anymore. I feel it happening with certain things. I’ve driven my sister insane by not clicking on her Spotify playlists. I just reinstalled a “landline” that perfectly illustrates the push pull. It is a phone with a handset that is attached to a base; but, it is then attached to a device (Obi) and then a router and powered by Google Voice.
Does each generation struggle with this? I wonder about it. My fear is of course about my career and where it will lead me if I give in to the sensation of not caring. I’m a good librarian and could easily “keep up” enough to continue being a good librarian; but, then what is my role if not the staff techie? I have lived a life fueled by curiosity. Sometimes, this has been to my detriment. It is hard to focus on one project when curiosity pulls me in 51 directions. What if I only gave curiosity 1 or 2 directions? What would happen then?
In the same essay, Orange writes:
I was young then, but it didn’t mean that much to me.
And that is where NOW comes in for me. I’ve been screwing around with my creative expressions for years and I have been slowly building a bonfire to Now. I have made a list of things I want to accomplish and do and the paths I need to take to get there. Now is clearly here.
I’ve been reading a ton of young adult novels lately. I have already surpassed my total reading tally from last year, though last year was a really slow reading year. I blame it on still adjusting to my new life in NYC. There was quite a bit of sleeping and TV watching. But, this year is my year of reading!
The cool thing about reading so much is that it inspires me to get back to the book. I’ve read some amazing and incredible books that I wish I had written myself: Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. She followed up that awesome book with another one, Ask the Passengers. If you haven’t read an A.S. King book, go now. I mean it. Run to your closest library or bookstore and get one. I guarantee you will not be disappointed and most likely, you will be dazzled. These are smart books. What do I mean by that? Well, they are layered and way deeper than your typical YA romance or tragedy or issues novel. Not that there is anything wrong with those books. Who doesn’t love a good juicy romance between the awkward girl and the cute hockey player? I love those too. It’s really hard to explain. Just go read one.
I have also read quite a few that didn’t really impress me that much. One was just horrible, and a handful were okay.
Both scenarios inspire me. A.S. King inspires me because I want to reach that depth and skill. The others inspire me because while accomplished, I don’t see them as anything particularly special or extraordinary and somewhere in between average and extraordinary there is a spot for me. At least, I believe there is a spot for me. So, I’ve cleared my art making desk off and set my laptop up for serious writing and revision. Although, fun fact #1: the first draft is always written long hand in a single subject notebook and then typed up on the computer where it is revised and revised and revised.
Spring is such a great time to start new projects or just dust off old ones.
Soundtrack: Alt-J, Deep Ska vols 1-4
And a detail