Friday, January 7, 2011

Old Thoughts and New Words

I’ll chalk it up to too much self-examination
And Sarah McLaughlin.

That's the first line to a poem I started writing years ago. I like it.

It's the pressure that gets to me. It's a burden imposed by no one but myself and it is substantial. I have this need to be doing something meaningfully beautiful, to produce the kind of writing that I love to read. Sometimes I come close. However, those moments where I have dipped a toe into the well of creative exquisiteness spring from the mire of emotional suffering.

I am not suffering right now, therefore I feel I have lost a needed edge. When I am happy, my writing is more clinical and academic, when I am down, it is more visceral. Perhaps that is the nature of creativity. Genius is frequently linked to madness.

These are just thoughts and ponderings to release me from the restraint of insecurity. I guess I am still afraid to let go and embrace a writing life.

So here I am, Sarah McLaughlin on my iPod, revisiting some of my unfinished thoughts and attempting to think new ones. Now, I can hear my sister saying, "Is somebody depressed?" Absolutely not. It's more of an examination of where I was, compared to where I am. Sort of the reverse of Black Swan- saw the movie the other night and it was fabulous. Even Mr. W., who I fully expected to hate it, kept saying, "Wow! Just wow!" My point is (without spoiling the movie for others) is that there are two pieces of my self, that I am trying to get comfortable with and integrate for the betterment of my chosen craft. In short, I want to be perfect or maybe I am just afraid to fall short of my own expectations of perfections. And, like her, I am the only one standing in my way. I need to kick my own ass.

At least my revisitations have led me to a new word, a word I think defines what I am trying to do for myself: omphaloskepsis. I'm not really sure it's real, since I have not found it in three different dictionaries. The closest I came was Omphalos(a stone that is, according to the followers of the Temple of Apollo, the center of the world) in the New College Dictionary.

According to my copy of The Thinker's Thesaurus (thanks to the NYC weekend girls!), omphaloskepis is a synonym for meditation as in "staring at one's belly button as an aid to meditation."
It goes on to cite a usage:
"The point of [Paul Goodman's philosophy], as near as I can make it out, is to achieve a kind of omphaloskepsis, repeatedly examining yourself and your motives and connections with the world around [you], and thus achieving health, or at least avoiding neurosis, by putting forth, as much and as continuously as possible, the authentic self. (Kirkpatrick Sale, review of Crazy Hope and Finite Experience: Essays of Paul Goodman, Nation, 4/10/1995.)"

I love it.
Yes, I am aware I am a total geek, dork, dweeb, etc., etc., etc...

This is most of the working copy of the poem that opens this post- it's neither finished, nor abandoned yet.

I’ll chalk it up to too much self-examination
And Sarah McLaughlin.
Somewhere between Fear and Possession
The road entranced- unfurling beneath
My car’s speeding tires, as I
Meditate on love and friendship,
And last night’s dinner conversation.

I drive by habit, the road’s undulations more familiar
Than my own skin.
Pavement is evident and explainable.

Melancholy songs fuel my rambling thoughts-
What you tried to tell me-
Reminding me of all the times I listened
Without hearing.

Too bad omphaloskepsis doesn't really fit in the poem, but it would work as a title, don't you think?
Or maybe I need a new playlist.

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