How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live - H.D Thoreau
Twice now, I have heard this quoted; in twilight after a game of cricket in Pune & at a Bandra pub this weekend. To me, the essence of it has become the proverbial pebble in the mental shoe. You do not know how it got there, between the pad of the 1st & 2nd toe. It is discomforting & irritating. You want to take the shoe off, shake it violently & watch with an almost evil glee as the innocuous object flies out into the distance. But you don't. In the recesses of your mind, you wish the pebble would make it's way out just as it made it's way in. Nudging this is the certainty that it will not. More often than not you continue walking, resigning yourself to temporarily suffering it. It is a familiar approach to you anyway. After a while, the discomfort becomes a part of your shoe, your gait.
The following is my attempt to take the shoe off.
I have spent this weekend thinking about the above idea. My initial instinct was to concur. If I had, perhaps this blog would have stayed silent for a long time, maybe forever. Not catastrophic in itself, but it could have led to a domino effect on other areas of my life. However, what it did result in was some serious thought & this post. It is not a refutation, A. This train of thought flagged off as I saw the bike roar off in the distance yesterday afternoon. And wondered why I did not just ride pillion. So bear with me.
I am 27. Or will be in a matter of weeks. My life so far has not been remarkable. It has had it's upheavals. Lots of them. There are precious few instances or occasions that have made me genuinely laugh or be glad that I was there, alive & well. More often than not, I have taken the safe / mundane approach, the result of some interestingly colourful upbringing. Like you, I have obsessed about the nature of life, railed against my existence & what it could and should amount to. Some posts have reflected that. For the longest time, caressing the present even, this state of affairs has pissed me off, sent many a futile rush of 'do something now' adrenalin coursing through me only to dissipate sheepishly.
I like roller-coasters. I like to cross a road in speeding traffic. I like the narrowing field of vision as my bike hits 80 km/h. I like to play the perfect bar on my saxophone. Take that perfect photograph. Where is this going ?
See, what I wanted to say in my previous post, but could not quite pull off is that there are very few moments when I am completely alive, aware, in control, helpless, fey & at peace, all at once. I think my readership will understand what I mean. An easily understandable example was the Goa trip I made in 2003. But these instances are exactly that - far & few. Do these mad & priceless moments become the reason for writing ? Do they permeate the text, the spirit of this blog ?
I don't think so.
Like I said, had I agreed with Thoreau's idea, this blog may have breathed its last. The blog would have been the first victim because it is one of the very few things that I take pride in. I write because I can; in part because I have a readership (and readership is valued, as this writer's post will tell you) but also because there are times & resultant posts that I know I am proud of. Not of the content itself, but that I can write. No one has yet told me otherwise.
I do not write thrilling tales. I do not write about many unreal, unbelievably mad moments. I have little to none of those. And I write about whatever I want, when I feel like I can.
But here's the thing. I personally do not believe that it is this quality about someone's post that brings me back to their blog. What does bring me back is Good writing; the ability to get across even the most innocuous of ideas or events with words that keep me riveted. Even a single sentence from a post that stays with me, makes that exercise a good one.
I sit down to write because I am living & I can.
Song for the moment: Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd