I get to blog tonight! You may be asking yourself how this can be in light of my most recent posts about trying to limit myself here. You may also be thinking hmmm, ‘get to’ sounds somewhat like a privilege. You would be right about the privilege thing — I need to think of it that way. A privilege I need to earn.
Maybe you read my very last post — For Zoe — the one about a certain door being opened yesterday at a writing workshop.
It didn’t just open, it was blown open. Since then, I’ve written 3,000 words on The Irrepairable Past. I don’t remember the last time I was able to write that many words in a twenty-four hour period. There’s more to come. I know what’s coming on the portion I’m working on. I know how it’ll end. And, once I finish this chunk, I’ll be able to get back to the three intervening chapters I haven’t touched yet. It’s a damn incredible feeling.
So, here’s what I want to share with you tonight. One of my best blogging friends, Olivia O’Bryon, told me about a book a few days ago Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. She read it and thought it seemed comparable to Weed Therapy, my as-yet-unpublished novel, based on my descriptions of the story.
Amazon delivered it a couple of days ago and I’ve been reading it ever since. And doing something I never do, particularly with fiction. I’m underlining passages and making notes in the margin. There are these rare books that strike a deep chord with me. Everything Matters did it. So did The Art of Racing in the Rain. I have this feeling Breakfast with Buddha will be added to the list. Here’s the first passage I underlined:
What’s the point of all this? would be putting the question too crudely, but it was something along those lines. All this striving and aggravation, all these joys and miseries, all this busyness, all this stuff — a thousand headlines, a hundred thousand conversations, emails, meetings, tax returns, warranties, bills, privacy notices, ads for Viagra, calls for donations, election cycles, war in the news every day, trips to the dump with empty wine bottles, fillings and physicals, braces and recitals, Jeanne’s moods, my moods, the kids’ moods, soccer tournaments, plumber bills, sitcom characters, oil changes, wakes, weddings, watering the flowerbeds — all of this, I started to ask myself, leads exactly where? To a smashed-up Buick on a country highway? And then what? Paradise?
You want to talk about the question and conversation that has filled my head for years and continues to do so more and more and more. In the quiet hours of the morning. In the hustle and bustle of the work day. While I’m alone in my car or out on my bike. When I’m in a room full of people, listening to three different conversations but participating in none of them. While my kids tell me of their day. While my wife chatters on about her this and her that.
It’s right there … is this it? Is this the point? Is this why I do all that I do? Is this the limit of where and who I will be? The author of Breakfast with Buddha hit the nail on the head. I feel like I live the ordinary and I ache for something more. I want, no, I need, that more. It’s right there, just outside of my reach, and I keep wondering if I’ll ever grasp it and pull it to me and live incredibly.
There are many more underlined passages I’m going to use as jumping off points for a post here, but this is the first.
What do you think? What’s the point of what you do? Does there need to be a point? What does all that we are add up to in the end? And do we even have the ability to change the calculation?
You want to talk about a book that is in my head, it’s Breakfast with Buddha. Pretty stunning thing to read a book that lays out on almost every page a thought I have, in almost the same words as I do.