I have been unhappy with my writing for the last several months. Nothing seems to say quite what I want to say; I can’t seem to think of what I want write about; other things seem to get in the way too easily, and so on. That’s the writer’s block part. And then there’s the fact that so many things are happening these days that I can’t keep up with them. Just as I’m about to put down my thoughts about so-and-so, such-and-such happens, and rather than choosing one or writing about both, I end up writing about neither. But this is the easy part of it.
The harder part is that there is something going on inside of me. I am 72 years old. That means I am beginning the transition from middle age to old age. The world looks different from this perspective. It seems somehow less urgent, less demanding, less in need of anything I have to say to it. I’m finding myself becoming more and more taciturn, looking at the world and simply holding my silence. A year or so ago, I remarked to a few friends that I seem to be turning into the quintessential aging Medieval monk, holed up in his cell of silence.
I am reminded of the wisdom of the Hindu progression from householder to spiritual seeker. As one ages, so the insight goes, one finds oneself increasingly drawn from the phenomenal world of things to the spiritual world, less in need of reaching outward and more in need of sinking inward.
It’s a pretty good description of what I am feeling, though I’m not really about to retire to a monastery. There is too much beauty out there in the world, and too many people whom I love and who love me for me to be comfortable with that level of withdrawal. Yet I feel the need for a serious level of quiet seeking in my life. The issue is how to strike the right balance.
I recently remembered something I read in one of Elie Wiesel’s books: “I write more to understand than to be understood.” I think that may be the key. I think I need to take a sabbatical from writing for anyone but myself. To be sure, I’ll stay in touch with family and loved ones through Facebook and other means, but I’ll not worry about writing for any other kind of publication. For example, I won’t close this blog down, but I will not write for it for a while, maybe for the rest of the year. Maybe longer. Who knows? And I’ll put aside my two book length manuscripts that no one seems to want to publish anyhow.
For the next while, I’ll write entirely for myself. My own reflections on whatever moves me. Meditations for myself alone. Wrestling with those books, like The Tao Te Ching, that are my scriptures. That sort of thing. And I won’t care whether anyone ever sees any of this.
And so, enjoy your lives, and I’ll see y’all on the other side!