I was waiting around this morning at Fabian’s café in Williamsburg. It was 8AM. It was really cold and I was really tired. I’d agreed the previous evening to model for Outlier, a company that makes boutique-y bike commuter clothes. As I pounded my double red-eye coffee (double espresso dropped in coffee—the caffeinated equivalent to a boilermaker), I thought about writing.
For a good portion of the last ten years or so, I’ve been an assiduous journaler. I’ll write out three pages or so of whatever is on my mind that given day. There’s a certain arc to the writing: first very cloudy, then picking up on a dominant thought and eventually coming up with some resolve.
To me, the writing is pretty decent, the thinking solid. There’s no narrative per se, but there is a problem and a solution and the line of reasoning that gets from the former to the latter. I really feel like journaling has helped me write better, think better and have better handwriting.
But the strange thing about my journaling is this: almost no one has ever read it. It is done exclusively for me. I recently through away the back catalogues, so there’s not even an idea of writing for posterity. It is almost solely therapeutic. I need to do it.
So this morning, I was there nursing my coffee and a headache. And suddenly I thought, “I want to write.” I asked the Japanese girl behind the counter for a piece of paper. She gave me a ticket slip, which wasn’t what I was thinking, but it was good enough. And I started writing.
This is when I started wondering why the hell I was writing? Who, even me, cares about this bit of ephemera? What will I do with these words? Is it really therapeutic or do I harbor ideas that I’ll someday be discovered or what not?
One of the primary goals in my life recently has been to discern what are my own desires and the desires of another, masquerading as my own. The former is valid, the latter not so much—it’s generally done with the express purpose of getting a reaction from that other person, whether that’s an individual like your dad or a group like your classmates. Most of us are primarily concerned with looking good in front of others. Accordingly, many of our actions are designed earn the esteem of these others. We dress to impress, make money to illicit envy and appear powerful in another’s eyes, we even create stuff—like art and apple pies—to make ourselves important.
But there I was, writing. No audience beside me. No motivation outside my own. And it felt important. In fact, the lack of reward didn’t occur to me. Why? Why would anyone do something with no prospect of reward? And what do things look like when they’re liberated from these expectations—from the shackles of projected reactions? Would they be sloppier without a projected audience or more honest without one?
Perhaps the most important catch in this sea of questions is this one: am I proving I exist through writing? Without documentation of our existences, what are we? We are living in ethereality—groundless and formless. Is this state liberating or constricting in its exclusion of certainty?
I have far more questions than answers.
I know what it’s like to be bound by something—whether it’s some sort of identity (ego) or formal construct like language. In both cases, there is a seeming lack of liberty and free will because we are remiss to compromise the integrity of these structures, many of which are load bearing, i.e. if we contradict them everything else will fail.
But it’s also shitty to live without these structures. We become lost in the ether. It is certainly tough to communicate and create anything without well-defined structures for creating definition.
I guess the ultimate challenge is to use with the structures without being them. The myriad structures—our bodies, our egos, our documentation, etc. are houses for something else. They are not the inhabitants? Then what is?