“To gain your own voice, forget about having it heard.” ― Allen Ginsberg
“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Hi – and welcome back. Trust you’ve been up to great things in the time it’s been? Today’s title is rather intuitive. Easily the most frequent question I’ve faced since I last penned something on here. It stares me in the face at every corner I turn. I thought I did a good job of running – but, clearly, hiding hasn’t worked out so well. So, let’s just face it.
PS – I have to warn you that this may read like a complete waste of time; the incoherent ramblings of a mentally obese literary has-been. Depending on your setup, it could also present as a sleep-inducing caricature. And, on another hand, you just might find it a commentary on recent happenings. Don’t hold me to it if you don’t see it. In the words of a ‘reputable businessman’, “si tu scis te scire”: if you know, you know.
I had to renew the blog’s subscription a few day ago. The service provider’s not one to let you miss a payment date ‘by accident’. So, notice was ample and frequent – just about enough to almost piss you off. At some point, I started to wonder what all the fuss was about. When last did I use the blog anyway? Why continue to pay for something I don’t use. And, of course, the inevitable: why don’t I even use it? Run out of juice, eh – Mr Nippy Penn?
Once upon a time, getting on the blog was my favourite pastime. I’d give just about anything for it. Now, it’s all crickets and cobwebs. The mere fact that it negates the concept of economic efficiency I aspire to live by makes it all the harder to swallow.
So, why don’t I write? The answer’s about as economic as it’s not. Making it all about economics would be – well, economic with the truth. The economics of it is one of few resources being deployed towards near-infinite needs. Same small head, same 24 hours; a whole new world of time- and resource-pressure. Is it a phase or the new norm? Would it be strange if Time bought Tell?
I’ll concede early about making excuses like a rain-beaten chicken (trademark), but please bear with me.
Why don’t I write? Visa issues. Quick story about a friend of mine. It’s traveled direct from his lips to my ears; so very little middle-man distortion. Once he was in the economy cabin of an international flight when his bowels threatened to mutiny. All the washrooms on his side of luxury were occupied – but the siege was in full force. It was all or nothing. So, he made a run for a business-class washroom.
Of course, a dutiful flight attendant tried to stop him – to remind him of what he never forgot – but he was too fast. After thoroughly exerting himself in the little cubicle, he came out, looked the attendant straight in the eyes and said “My brother, shit has no class”. Hate it or love it, but credit the audacity. It’s the kind of motivation that shatters class barriers, and potentially transforms a compound idiot (like myself) into borderline genius. That’s what I meant by ‘Visa’.
I once had it. It was effortless when I had to catch the bus at 5:30, absolutely unsure when I’d return. Every free second was a window of escape my mind eagerly embraced. I’d fall asleep behind the wheel (of a friend’s car) as traffic stood still, or often missed my stop by public transport on late nights. Crazy as it sounds, those were all the churning I needed to make a dash for that all-inspiring business class washroom. You could argue that not having to wake up before the sun or sleep off in traffic is “better” – but have you heard that adage about roaches and a burning lamp? I’ll paraphrase: rats don’t take over an office in use.
Why don’t I write? Very simply because I no longer think. I’ve become shallower than a lake trapped in a teaspoon. I could drown in a pothole. What use is writing merely for the sake of it? Again, maybe it’s a phase – but rote seems to be the order of the day. Anything else is a scary thought. Imagine being in a 50-50 surgery and focusing on the darker 50 while wrist deep in guts. Paralysis will thank you for the glossy invite. Instead, you switch to muscle memory and hope to God the beep never stops. I see enough lip-service from our leaders to acknowledge this country as a great kisser. But we can’t all have our pension plans figured out by the end of a four-year term. Overthinking the odds certainly doesn’t help.
Why don’t I write? “Without recourse to the last paragraph”, maybe I’m lost in space; overthinking things. Wondering if the message would be well received and whether the messenger will return alive. By the comments we daily encounter, our world is getting more stratified and less tactful. Things could quickly boil down to who you are or what you own. Not being nobility can easily amount to yelling through sound-proof glass. Make the gruesome mistake of being adjudged wealthier than the listener, and you’re elitist and unrealistic. Nothing works at face value anymore. Everything is linked to blinding sentiment; life or mass-death.
Why don’t I write? Well, the music stopped; can’t do much without it. I was reading a similar story from GbengaWemimo the other day – and it resonated deeply. Seated in a concert hall, wits fully about me enjoying the world’s best music; only to have it cease without warning. I can swear I still see the conductor masterfully waving his baton. The orchestra’s definitely still chiming away at its many instruments – but I hear none of it. Nothing else changed; the music just stopped.
I used to hear the music in everything: from the beautiful chaos through a wall of uncertainty to niggling insecurities and anxieties. It all just stopped. No fade, no distortion; just an infinitely spaced staccato. The playlist got too long as playtime got too short.
It was always easier to find an anchor when the issues were largely personal. But they kept talking about the bigger picture – “your role in the whole”. Fair enough that you try to see more ocean than atoms. But broaden the view even the slightest bit, and the music quickly becomes a push. Everyone’s talking, but the only ones listening are the many whose voices would never be heard again. I mourned the music longer than we mourn the fallen. Now it’s time to make my own.
Why don’t I write? Believe you me, you’re not the only one wondering. I’m asking me too. Only snag is, I only remember to ask when my resources are about other business – like the hands checking for phone and wallet as I walk the streets, or mind hoping youthful inflation breaks a leg and doesn’t outrun the two cents I have invested. Between wondering if the officer would shoot first and ask for ID later, the brain’s asking why I don’t write – but I really can’t respond in that moment. If it only knew.
I would really love to. In fact there’s only a handful of things I’d like better in life. But I frequently find the crayfish that is me doubled over under the yoke of a master named condition. They say the power lies with me – yet I feel anything but powerful.
Enough about me. Let’s talk about you. If by stroke of luck or spin of magic, I did write something, would you read if it wasn’t gossip or breaking news? Whatever your answer, please understand that mine is not very different.
In the early days, it used to be a fair balance of writing and reading; almost symmetrical in travel time. Your boom becomes fuel for another’s boom; input and output locked in virtuous cycle. The explosions filled the sky, and either kept you awake or woke you from sleep. The bland sky bears witness to my unlit flare. Time to try a little more.
In conclusion, there can be no conclusion. Believe it or not, it sucks to be the one who concludes the inconclusive.
Happy Independence Day (in advance) to all those celebrating. I’m not.