Second Wind

(with special thanks to Candice, I think)

Contrary to popular wisdom, it's actually quite easy to stop something you have started. This is the problem with habits, the good ones at least; they seldom arise out of sheer entropy, out of that undefined energetic laziness that seems to be our destined resting state. Their inception often requires a jolt, some outside influence, a word breathed into the dark. This is the essence of inspiration. We build our homes with someone else's bricks.

I kind of ran out of steam this past week. For reasons I'd rather not chew over any more, that inkling of a jolt that spurred me to bring The Puddle back online seemed more like some kind of spell of deja-vu, a mass misfiring of brain cells, a spell of unspeakably inhibited uptake. Imagination is a tricky thing, a rather unreliable co-pilot, as anyone who has experienced the onset of hypothermia will tell you. I suppose what strikes me most of the whole thing is the harsh lesson in just how completely our rational capacities are enslaved by the savage force of our aspirations. The certainty of enthusiasm gives way to the crushing weight of ambiguity, an indecisive lethargy with no end in sight. I am reminded in moments like these of the oppressive Manhattan heat that Fitzgerald captures so aptly in The Great Gatsby. "What shall we do with ourselves?" asks Daisy, "Today? Tomorrow? The rest of our lives?" What shall we do indeed?

I resolved to attempt a sort of self-jumpstart, to put myself through the motions of decisive action like pushing a stalled car down a hill. It worked for about a day or so. It felt a bit like holding a drained battery under your arm to give it just a little more juice. Sometimes words cannot begin to express the value of a getaway driver. I mean that only partly metaphorically, quasiphorically if you will. My getaway driver whipped us off into a turbulent night, down slick winding roads to a screened-in porch and a bare lightbulb.

Yes, travel can be a very convenient way to avoid your life. As someone who has spent much of his own life running away in one form or another, I can attest to this. All you need to do is to plan a trip, and all manner of anxiety, dissatisfaction, and dysfunction becomes strangely more bearable. I can understand the appeal of lusting after an imminent apocalypse; in a way it's the ultimate vacation which may be starting sooner than you think. Two things I don't want to spend too much time talking about, but will return to at a later date, possibly this week: travel and the apocalypse. Suffice it to say that just because you change the scenery doesn't mean you have changed the plot, and even the most exotic of settings tend to only have a superficial impact on the characters. So why run away? Why flee to the well manicured wilds of the Muskokas for a meagre forty-something hours in the cold and the rain?

Sometimes it is not rest and relaxation you need, but vigorous unnecessary exertion. Perhaps it is not so much a matter of healing as cauterizing, to cure the soul like leather, to tan this inner hide with the ache of your muscles and the soot from your lips. I'm trying to run a tannery: give me piss, not chicken soup. There's something to be said for throwing hatchets, for drinking whiskey and playing with fire.

I am willing to admit a particular to my generalization about travel. It is the particular you find in a field of dying ferns under a hunter's moon, that thrill of waking in the night to find that you can see. This is not a tourist attraction or a backpacking hotspot. This is the ecstatic energy of an instant, the mundane become uncanny. Granted, I probably did not need to drive five hours for this, but then again, maybe there is something to be said for the time and the place.

So let's try again. From the top... I'm going to apologize in advance for the likely trend of the content I'll be posting in the next few months. In all likelihood my academic demons will triumph in the battle for my preoccupation. As a result, all manner of vague references and cryptic flourishes will pollute these digital pages like geese on a beach. I'll try to keep it interesting, but I'll also be essentially married to a copy of Plato's Republic, so no promises.