One of the most damaging ideas I ever internalized, and that still has roots so deep and strong that it makes me feel like I’m trying to deny reality when I fight to uproot them, is that there is a life I’m “supposed” to be living, a me I’m “supposed” to be, and I am constantly succeeding or failing at having that life. I obsess about forks big and small: I should have sold that book proposal in 2007 (no, I shouldn’t have; that wasn’t a book I needed to write, just one I could have written, but I want my career to reflect things I really care about) (yes, obviously you should have sold it, there’s nothing about having published one kind of book that makes it impossible to do another kind, no matter what’s “optimal” for the “marketplace,” and besides, what does your book list reflect now? nothing, because no book has been perfect enough, you jag); I should be typing something different with these unknown number of minutes I have during which Benji is satisfied by lying alone in his crib looking at his mobile (make the most of this–which of the million entries you’ve started writing in the last week do you want actually to commit?) (indecision is the stupidest way you could use this time) and so on. I have spent years not doing things because I was sure there was a Right way to do them and I was sure if I just thought about it and worried about it hard enough, I could do them the Right way and, I don’t know, avert disaster, embarrassment, mistakes? Please the gods? You may be saying to yourself, well, everyone does that. No but guys my shit is pathological. I am sitting here hoping the baby will cry so I don’t have to tell you this embarrassing story from college illustrating how pathological.
Omigod he just started whining. That’s hilarious. I can control all things with my mind.
(My mind right now: Why are you writing about your indecision? Why don’t you use this time to go work on one of the two books you’ve done so much research for and will someday look back and say, “Man, I should have just written those”? God you’re dumb.
Me, to my mind: You are a _terrible_ steward of your omnipotence.)
Okay, he chilled out, so long story short, when I was in college, I got obsessed with this young (white) British man who’d grown up in Kenya and become a photographer and kept these very elaborate, beautiful, detailed collage diaries of his travels. Well he and his friends were just dicking around through Africa in a jeep one of the many times they did this and they ran across the victims of the Somali famine which European media hadn’t begun covering yet. He was horrified of course and started working for Reuters and his diaries got much darker, like you’d expect, and then one day some European military force of some kind bombed a house that held a beloved local leader and Dan–that was his name, Dan Eldon–was present and white and, understandably, the horrified and grieving townsfolk stoned him to death. He was almost 22. His mother then compiled his diaries into an art book and published it and I found it when I was home for my Christmas break in December 1998 and folks, I just weren’t the same after that.
Oh hey Benji isn’t messing around now. I’ll have to continue this later. But since I promised myself I had to publish whatever I wrote when I wrote it, uh… sorry! To be continued!