Today was a hard day.
I am not sure I’d like to get into the day itself. That might come later.
Interestingly, my frustration led me to two things that I used to take great comfort in: reading good books and exploring my thoughts by way of writing.
I used to think that writing came from some confidence in one’s ideas and the desire/urge to share it with others, a desire that is exhibitionist in kind, both didactic and self-affirmative – and therefore paradoxically insecure.
My latest writing experience, however, came from more than just that. I am trying to figure it out as I write this.
When I was younger, I think I wrote because I enjoyed the activity of engaging in my mind. It was great fun exploring my consciousness, often searching for some hidden ideas that I wouldn’t have readily noticed. Hence it was necessary for me to concentrate on letting my mind wander freely, without restraint, to a nearly meditative degree.
Earlier today – this morning – I felt the intense need to write in order to explain myself, to untangle the tangle that was obvious enough in my mind yet was also unclear enough to frustrate and confuse me. I like to work things out in my mind, to logically compartmentalize and delineate things even if the order might be ephemeral. That kind of temporary mental quietude, the calmed chaos of mind, also brings such emotional assurance and relief – and this was what I so loved about, craved and found in writing as a child, whatever the reason for such a proclivity and need from such a young age.
And the same with reading. What I enjoyed most about it, rather than a simple indirect experience of other lives or the thrill of following the unfolding of a narrative, was to see a way of ordering the world and life – to see how one person would explain a situation, an experience, or even life itself. To see how he would use characters and events and places, set them up strategically to deliver one complete view of the world, ordered through his set of ideas, logic and intuition. Like an interpretation of a difficult and complex piece – which might or might not be great. It was in this way that I enjoyed reading novels when I was young, and this was the reason why I gravitated nearly exclusively to philosophy and other non-fictional works through my adolescence till now.
Today I also wrote because I wanted to explain myself. I wanted to explain myself; there was so much to say; and it was tiring and disorganized and self-defeating to explain orally. I needed clarity and structure in my expression, and in my thoughts themselves. That is why I had to write today, and that was the true fuel behind the desire to write even more than some confident conviction in self or an urge to share my ideas. To vindicate myself. But then maybe they aren’t so far apart – the desperate and urgent desire to vindicate self and the vain and indulgent desire to re-confirm and celebrate the self.
It is interesting – I used to feel verbally quite undermined because of my lack of command over the new language. And of course I was. But then even limited tools may allow one to express oneself quite freely, if used skillfully and with certainty. I saw this in my tango class the other day – it was the end of one series of the classes, and the teacher declared to us that now we had the tools to explore the dance floor with grace, which she proceeded to demonstrate to us with her assistant. We have yet to acquire the technique and vocabulary to express ourselves in an intricate way, but we now certainly have a variety of simple movements to weave together creatively. Sure, this may be a simplistic analogy. However it is true. It is more the self-conscious inhibition that poses a greater hurdle than the limitedness of tools of expression itself.