To write of the moment is to take one’s self out of it. Seated at the desk, pen in hand, I watch the action move away from me, yet I’m getting closer to knowing what I think about it.
But what draws my eyes away from the page again tugs at my coat sleeves, too, pulling me along like a hand reaching out from a crowd on the march. I give, no questions asked, sure no one knows where we’re going only because I have not seen any indication to the contrary. People around me stand on tip-toe, trying to peek ahead, down the street, and shoulders nudge into my own as we continue shuffling along. I find myself enjoying the bustle, as well as the close contact with others and the sure knowledge of myself in relation to them. On the other hand, there’s really not much I can profess from this vantage except that yes, we’re all moving, and that I share the conviction of everyone else when they say that it must be toward something.
I step out again, sit down at my desk again, and then wonder what I’d have hoped to find by remaining in step. I start writing, my effort spent in order to better understand what we’re all desperate not to miss out on, as the world passes before me and I resist the impulse to move: I am convinced that what I’m seeking is not out there. I pull my arm back from the next hand reaching out, my eyes lingering for a moment on the face of the one who saw me, alone, and who maybe thought I was sad, or too shy to partake. Neither is true, but it is hard to put into words what’s keeping me seated here—at times I worry it’s nothing more than inertia.
I fall asleep writing, another day gone without answers, nor has there been any word from those in front, as to whether they found what we’re looking for.
I dream I am in an empty plaza, and that I have just made the finishing touches on my life’s work and am now ready to share. I pack up my tools, stand and dust myself off. I hear the sounds of an approaching crowd, echoing down streets feeding into the square from every direction, and I find myself suddenly anxious to leave before they all arrive, for I realize then that all along I’ve been terrified to hear what they’ll say.
I’ve had this dream before, and each time I wake up from it I have to convince myself all over again that falling into step with those outside my front door is not what I need to do, even though perhaps then I wouldn’t second-guess myself, but would give myself over to the joy and delirium of the crowd. Instead I must continue to sit still. Praise be to those who have, over a life time, resisted the urge to launch into motion and partake, because motion has an authority which is hard to defy. They have written testament to what they’ve found, in stillness, and I think it is this which I too seek, though I cannot be sure; their words are all I have to serve as my conviction.
It is a new morning, but it is hard to begin the day’s task when my own thoughts are running away from me, eager to see the culmination of ‘a life’s work’, and guessing as to what it might look like. I wish they were not so impatient, these errant thoughts, but they are that and skeptical too, representative of that of the world which is not willing to be still: in other words, they are the crowd and they’ve found their way into my study, despite my protests. They are causing a commotion and do not seem to care about what I’m doing—in fact they are making quite an argument to the contrary, and say that if I really do insist that I must finish, then I should hurry or they’ll be gone without me.
The problem is I simply cannot work any faster, even as the world seems to be speeding up, on its way to where I don’t know, but which I try to imagine as I write.