It used to be The Crying of Lot 49, Hemingway, pubs, and Pearl Jam. These were what fed my hunger and helped as I engaged in the act of putting words to paper. Now it is day in and day out. Diapers and formula. Mortgages and car payments. Groceries and utilities. It is a life of necessity and routine and waking at 5:25 on Thanksgiving morning with the hope that I’ll get work done. Finally, put fingers to the keys, but then my daughter wakes. She is hungry. I feed her. She burps, laughs, and is not tired, so I walk with her in my arms. The floor creaks. Furnace kicks on. And I wonder how this little girl can make me so warm on such a cold morning. I do this—hold her and wonder and walk back-and-forth on the cold hardwood floor for an hour until her lids are heavy, she is gassed out, and then I put her back to bed. But by the time I’m back to the keys, the thoughts and gut feelings that have been kept at bay by work and family and alcohol are no longer at the surface, easy to tap, ready to flow. And it is not as easy as it used to be. But I take comfort in it and recognize it for what it is. A man out of practice. A man without words. And I know for certain one thing—those that have it easy aren’t doing it right.
When you put all of yourself into it and concentrate so much on all those things that are not you, it gets hard. You lose yourself in what everyone else wants you to be. Daddy, Husband, Editor, and all you’ve ever wanted was to write and love and eat and sleep and drink and find a place to call home. But life is like this and the path is not level or straight. And you keep at the keepin’ on because it is the only way you’ve ever known. You just keep getting up, throwing your legs over the side of the bed, and hoping for the best. But you know, deep down, there is no best. Not at writing or fishing or fighting. Not at loving your wife, providing for your kids, or even playing with the dog. There is never a best and there will never be a best and the only cold hard fact that keeps you motivated is the sense of desperation that grows every second of every day that you are not satisfied.
None of this lasts and comfort is for the weak. We can settle and procreate and love truly and deeply our wives and kids and husbands and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and gods and monkeys and sunrises and sunsets, but comfort kills and fills our shells so that sooner we are thicker on the bottom than at top and there is nothing else to do but go with the flow. Gravity pulling us down. Closer to the hole.
It is not frustration or sadness or lack of drive. It is aim and happiness and a dogged determination to rise up, give back, and stay true to the simmering thoughts and gut feelings that have been moving these fingers, pumping this heart, since I was a kid and afraid to sleep because the dark felt so good.
But this is nonsense. A layer of shit that needs to be wiped away so that I can return to what’s meant to be. A kid at the keys. Wrestling with words. Fighting the good fight. One letter at a time.
Eat up. Happy Thanksgiving.