this is for Amy.
Where has all the poetry gone?
I think back on my past and can barely recognize the person who used to be so full of wonder and romance and life. Who would write down lines of obsession and love without hesitation. I remember a time when there was some meaning in the world. When I could look at art or listen to music, or even read something beautiful, and be moved by it. A time when I felt more deeply.
But did I really feel more deeply? Am I just romanticizing the past, creating some rose-colored “good ol’ days” to reminisce about?
I feel like a shadow of myself. Who am I really? Every day I wake up and am filled with fear of doing the things that would enrich my life. The things that will actually be worth remarking upon after I die. I fill my time with false productivity and self-sabotage, staring the clock in the face, and running away in terror.
I stopped looking at the details. I stopped believing in myself, and I lost the ability to risk mistakes, lost the courage to put my heart on the page, to fearlessly express whatever modicum of truth I possessed.
There is a strange paradox here. I know one thing is true: I am more able to feel and express emotion these days than I ever have before: I cry more easily, laugh harder, and breathe deeper. This I know.
But I have also become almost entirely cut off from the parts of me that are willing to give that emotion any shape or form. I don’t write that much anymore. I never write poetry; I wouldn’t even know where to start. It’s all bogged down in thoughts. Why not just say what I am thinking? And who cares what I am thinking? Then there are thoughts of structure, of the “rules.”
I must have died. How did it happen? Whatever my original intentions, I have become truly lost.
I can still see the world of beauty. I know it exists. I know what it looks and smells like. But I feel like an observer, unable to really participate in it.
The world of poetry and life and love is all around me, and when I read the lines all I can think of is how much more it would have meant to me in years past. How I used to feel able to inspire beauty in others. Now I cannot even inspire it in myself, nor muster the courage to try to make it.
That Elliott Smith song keeps running through my mind. Everything means nothing to me…everything means nothing to me...
Sometimes I cry, and yet never do I turn these moments of true emotion into any sort of art. They are lost. It’s such a selfish way to lose, the way I lose these wasted blues…
Sick to death of this. Sick of feeling afraid to get out of bed each day, of preferring to turn over and hide in dreams until the screaming of the schoolchildren across the street force me to get up.
My life becomes nothing more than a collection of lyrics, and I look around for someone to take me out for drinks or to call and just help me shut off my mind.
I fear creating petty, mediocre art. Afraid enough that I never do anything anymore. When did I become so tired and jaded? All the time in the world is at my fingertips, and I waste it.
I’m writing this to give the sickness a name. To bring it into the light.
So I can start to come back to life.
It is said that if you bring forth what is inside you, it will save you. Alternately, if you don’t bring forth what’s inside you, the same things will destroy you.
I bought a book of poetry tonight. Maybe it will wake me up again. Maybe it will be the pebble that starts an avalanche.
Maybe everything’s not lost.
You gave me stormy weather
with just the shadow of your hand
across my face.
You gave me the cold, the distance,
the bitter midnight coffee
among empty tables
It always started raining
in the middle of the movie,
and waiting amid the petals
af the flower I brought you: a spider.
I think you knew it was there
and enjoyed the awkward moment.
I always forgot the umbrella
when I went to pick you up,
the restaurant was always crowded
and on the corners they were hawking war.
I was a tango lyric
to your indifferent tune.
~ julio cortázar
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
this is for Amy.