My mother sang nursery rhymes to me; I sang in chorus; I listened to the Beatles and Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground; Mark said to be part of the now, the us and not them, so I fell in love with Animal Collective; in school we turned the pages of the score of Bach, let’s explain sound, us non-Christians were supposed to cry for Jesus if we didn’t when Matthew told us himself; to see Connor’s face is to understand that music is meant to be made and heard in the now.
How long must I listen to old, stale symphonies? When can I begin to sing with my own voice? Must I take voice lessons, or can I forget pitch for a while? Will you listen?
I am not talking about Bach—although it is true I ought to pick up guitar, or at least sing in the shower more often.
I am talking about M. W. Fogleman.
I am talking about me.
I am talking about you.
I am talking about us.
I am talking about humans.
I am talking about the Logos.
I will not talk about books.
I will write.
I didn’t write any New Year’s Resolutions this year, and I don’t think it’s just because I had Middlemarch to read. In my room at home I have a list of things I want to do every day taped up on my desk:
WAKE up early
don’t just do something—SIT there
READ a book, a lecture, Wikipedia
WRITE those essays
EXERCISE—walk, 30 minutes a day, maybe pullups and pushups again after college.
Simple enough, but most days I’d sleep in, some days I wouldn’t meditate, there were always more books to read, always an unfinished essay to finish, and even walking felt guilty.
I’m back in my room on campus, and it’s just how I like it—bare walls, a carpet for meditating, a desk to read and write at, a comfortable beds, and bookshelves.
It’s the bookshelves that get me. These are the signs of the impending implosion. Efficiency at sniffing out what’s really important isn’t liberating. It’s paralyzing. There’s a lot of talk now about “information overload.” Sure, I feel you. There’s more books and websites and cool videos every second. But even though it sometimes seems like I want to read all the books, it’s the genuine activities that haunt me. Watching friends play instruments and sing together makes me feel like I’ve never known what music really meant; I’m just starting to realize how beautiful mathematics is, and how philosophy has many secrets I’ve never heard her whispering to me; I meet a whole person every week and we have stories and wisdom to share but less and less time to share it all; and they say enlightenment could take more than this meager life.
Thankfully, pessimism is pointless. At my deathbed, my Goodreads account won’t scream out how many books out of the to-read list I’ve whittled down. All those paradigms I forgot from Freshman Year won’t have any meaning whatsover. The essays won’t mean anything to me any more, although maybe somebody else will want to read them. What will really matter, is this thing called Life, whatever it actually is, whether its the bare bones of breath, the mysteries poetry posits, or a mean in memory.
So no New Year’s Resolutions this year: only Life Resolutions, and vague ones at that.
Happiness. Love. Learning. Meditation. Reading. Writing. Helping.
One day at a time.
of COURSE I can write hard if I want to, even write the Great American novel if I so desired the sweat of it, the trouble is getting myself in the situation where I’d have to make it so, where I’d have to live in a bedroom of some widow’s house with a bare mattress and an oven and a pile of books and air to breathe and the vegetarian equivalent of flipping burgers to keep me in a bed and food and books and notebooks which i would have to FORCE MYSELF TO FILL day and night and also to MAKE IT MEAN SOMETHING TO SOMEBODY ELSE and not SUCCUMB TO THE TEMPTATIONS OF ISLANDS where nobody speaks the language you do because then i’d be lonely not just at night but all day