Lately I’ve been in the habit of spending my days fulfilling my commitments to other people – writing assignments, creativity coaching sessions, responding to correspondence, etc. It’s all good work that I enjoy, but there’s been a nagging sense of something missing – a barely perceptible existential cloud. Not serious but not great either.
So last night I made a date with myself to get up at 6:00 AM, go to my dining table (as opposed to my computer, which is associated with “real projects” – my own or someone else’s), light a candle and just write for 20 minutes – about nothing in particular. When the alarm went off this morning, it felt like an act of utter futility. But I gently urged myself out of bed, sat myself down with tea and timer, and just started writing. The phrase, “Write into the sunrise” popped into my head so I let it lead me. I wrote about the gulls and crows that seem to greet each day with the same level of noisy unnuanced enthusiasm, about the silver sheen of the water, about the glimmer of apricot light on daybreak’s indigo clouds… Nothing in particular, but I found myself paying more attention than I usually do. The morning light moves swiftly – it’s impossible to track it – but the glide of my black pen across the gleaming white page made me realize how important if not essential it is to make the attempt. It expanded my sense of possibility. It dissolved my existential cloud.
I’ve done this kind of exercise before – many times – I have the mounds of notebooks to prove it. I’ve often enjoyed it but there has always been a vague sense that it wasn’t real writing. There was no purpose. No one was going to read it. I’m beginning to think that that mode of thinking is a kind of madness – as though nothing has meaning unless it has been so decreed by some ego – whether it’s our own, someone else’s, or a cluster of unexamined socially endorsed assumptions.
We write or we make music or we make art because we can, because it’s a vital part of our humanity. We don’t need a reason. Just write into the sunrise, for heaven’s sake. Fall in love with your day.