Today as I pondered what I was going to make of the year 2011 (In general, my vocation is far, far too unintellectual to consume my full thought processes, so I find myself forced to ponder many things at once) and enumerating said items, it occurred to me that the one most prominent and important thing I needed to do was to simply write.
While I do try from time to time to divert myself along less analytical lines, ultimately I find that I measure my successes and failures using tried and true metrics that are as qualitatively absurd as they are quantitatively irrelevant. How many books did I finish this year? How many blog posts did I manage to publish? How many places did I go and take photos? On balance, this year was an utter failure in the realm of literature but a vast success if you measure it terms of frozen light and shadow. I look back with derision on my posts from this year. For the most part, they constitute statements of duress and misery, sad testaments to a sad person. That said, what posts I did bother to generate do continue to resonate with me. As riddled with despair as I was, I was not forsaken by the ability to turn a simple phrase into one that requires repetition of perusal just to squeeze out its very fundamental meaning. In short, I retain always my talent for making the very simple into the unnecessarily complicated.
Looking back on the year, I regret that I didn’t draw out in minute detail the events that marked the passing of 2010. I recall with great vividness laying under a Catalpa tree with a newfound friend, the grin stretching provocatively and seemingly without end from one side of my face to the other. Because I didn’t record it, all I have is scattered images and the visceral feeling of jubilance. I can still call it up in my mind, and each time recalled, it improves, but I regret that I have no relic of the day, carved from giddy, bubbling words, to look back on.
Later in the year, I found myself out west. Hundreds of photographs capture the days spent in that dusty terrain. The visuals preserved forever for as long as pixels remain pixels, but as each day passes, the feelings, the gentle caress of the desert breeze, the growing anticipation of a reunion, the energy of rising pre-dawn to find whatever is to be found, the loneliness of a desert road at night… they all fade away because they were not recorded. Someday, they will be lost to me utterly, but today… today they remain.
This is the value of the written word. This is what I have thrown away these past two years by not taking the time to record, as best I can, those things that cannot be summed up in a mere photograph. Though the cliché says that a picture should be valued as a thousand words, those words are ill chosen. Those 1000 words are cast in stone and are words of another’s choosing. To really capture a time, a place, a person, you must choose those words and choose wisely. It also helps if you spell enough of them correctly that you can read them later. So it is with this regret, with this sense of indelible loss, that I resolve that I must return to those halcyon days of yesteryear when I actually wrote down what was going on. I make no promises to anyone, save to myself, that anything I write will be of even the most minor interest. In fact, I would find it exceptionally surprising if anyone DID find anything I had to write even the least bit interesting. But none the less, I find that I must write. If for no other reason than to entertain and fulfill the promise to the me of the future, who will cast his mind backwards and wonder what it was, exactly, that went through my mind. I cannot repair the rent in the fabric of my history, but I can at least begin to weave the cloth once again.