Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Appointment

After a flurry of household and personal grooming activity—tidying up in the kitchen and trimming nails or shaving—you focus on the appointment with an amused snicker.  The amusement is because the appointment has reached the point where you are no longer casual about it.  You were tidying up beyond your normal neatness.

Your amusement with yourself is because while tidying, you were thinking of your parents.  You were in effect bringing them into an equation.  Trimming nails or shaving is part of the delaying process. Perhaps adding a dash of existential adrenaline to the stew of procrastination already at noticeable simmer.

At such moments, the appointment seems of overwhelming importance.  Surely you will be late.  Excuses—which is to say defenses—already begin to form in your mind.  Contingencies arise, presenting themselves as potential candidates for the simmering stew.  After all, it is a sympathetic stew.

Isn’t it?

As with so many things in the universe, the stew has only limited awareness.  The rest is in your hands.  You need not be clean-shaven or tidy for this appointment.  Some may argue that your appearance at the appointment trumps the appearance you present upon arrival.

Last defense arrives as though from an eager FedEx delivery person; you need, desperately need coffee and it is too much bother to make it at home.  Well enough.  You alert Sally to your departure, wend your way down the drive to your car, aware now that you have used up every last stratagem.  The most you can hope for is a chance encounter with someone, who will provide the distraction of conversation.

Although your choice of venue is crowded, you see no familiar faces or, better put, no one recognizes you.  Your name is called by the barista, announcing your presence to anyone who might give you last minute reprieve by recognizing you.

You experience the flush of hopelessness at this last-ditch inevitability.  Time has run out.

There is nothing for it but to begin writing.  It is not that you have nothing to say or to write about; you have in fact left off yesterday’s work on a project, filled with anticipation and opinion.

 The appointment is for the practice, the beginning session, these self-same notes to precede the day’s output, the musician’s equivalent of running scales and practice.

The thing to be learned at the appointed time is to bypass the fear of what you have written, if anything to transfer the fear to the fear of what you do not write because you have stopped to think about it.

There are times for thought, both before writing and after, in the drafts and revision process.  There are time for no thought whatsoever, rather to keep the words coming as though they had a life of their own, without you stepping in and trying to give them one.

If you stop to think, you may indeed come up with something, a connection, a new direction, even a fresh idea, but then you have to get back into the stream again, stop thinking about how good that connection was or how you did not see it coming, as though you were trying to convince yourself that you were back to spontaneous again.

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