Thursday, October 6, 2016

Who Was It Who Wandered Lonely as a Cloud?

You offer in the good faith of not resorting to hyperbole or exaggeration the fact of having attended at least sixty writers' conferences, all as one sort or participant or other. The offer for good faith continues with the assertion that you have heard the expression verbalized at more than half of these appearances that writers lead lonely lives.

When you first began hearing this writer's version of urban myth, you bought into it because of the hours you spent in some room or office, by yourself, either reading or composing. 

In some cases, before the Internet made going to a library a necessary activity, you ruled out such visits, even though rules and regulations of behavior dictated silence, and the overwhelming probability that any given trip to any given library meant the grand possibility of finding some material you wished to spend uninterrupted time with alone.

You were also ready to believe the writing life was lonely because you were so invested in it at the times when your friends from high school and the undergraduate worlds were either involved in some form of nine-to-five work, or undertaking the icy declivities of graduate school. 

The result caused a growing sense of isolation during meetings after working hours, when your friends, even though approaching tedium in their working day, had tangible things to report, where your reports related to such negative accomplishments--or so you thought--of rejection slips, of dissatisfaction with the way a scene turned out, or the even more tenuous one in existential terms, moments of wondering if the things you were working on were focused on the right moral and intellectual concepts.

On a number of occasions while you were supposedly a prisoner in the cocoon of loneliness, you attended one-off lectures or panel discussions in which the moderators or speakers themselves paid lip service to the notion of the writer being both alone and lonely, as though having taken vows for initiation into some mystical entity. 

Indeed, one university classmate wrote you a kind and yet provocative note of farewell, saying he'd offered all his worldly hopes and identity to the fires of Brahman, even to the point where he in effect attended his own funeral.

Based on what you knew of such activity at the time, you understood what was meant by "the fires of Brahman," a ritual in which Agni, the god of fire, is evoked, fed some yogurt, offered some flowers and at least one banana, some Ganges water, some more flowers, and then such serious stuff as the fruits of one's entire actions.

But you were not convinced about the lonely part, in large measure because your thoughts were so filled with individuals you'd created to carry out dramatic purposes which had been chosen to produce dramatic if not poetic ends.

You are more apt to feel lonely when you are neither reading nor writing, caught in some of those tenuous moments of limbo, where you are awaiting the arrival of an idea, caught for a response in a conversation, or considering something you've seen and done numerous times before, wondering how to make something new and memorable of it.

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