Writing for Ghosts

It is 4 a.m. and once again I am planted before the keyboard attempting to craft words into clever sentences…and there you go, failure in the first keystrokes. The good news, based upon my dearth of hits on WordPress, is that no one will read this anyway.

I once envisioned myself a budding writer, but now I am thoroughly convinced that feeling was nothing more than insomnia in the early morning hours combined with a pot of cheap coffee flushing out last night’s indigestion (don’t worry, that’s as graphic as I am capable of writing!)

I know I could be a good writer, if it wasn’t for all that grammar and words and things. But who am I kidding? It’s all about the words…the fucking words! (Hey, I used “dearth” in my second sentence…doesn’t that count for anything?) Well, I don’t have words or ideas or pesky plots, but what I do have is way too much time on my hands, so here you go.

When I write, I don’t have a particular audience in mind. Well, sort of, I guess…I have the ghosts of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Hemingway, and Plath. Sweet Sylvia Plath. Lots of dead people who, while not necessarily helpful critics, at least show up in my head and watch the circus of confusion unfold. Sometimes I can hear the occasional clicking of the tongue, a sure sign to lay on the backspace and come at a line from a new direction. Or maybe the clicking is the melting cubes in Ernest’s posthumous cocktail. The revolver of his pistol being locked into place? Who knows? The point is, I’m often guided by the whispers of spirits.

It feels as though when I write it has less to do with me having something to say than something that has to be said having me to write it. (Wow, I just plagiarized myself..that last line was something I wrote a year ago!) But it’s true, nonetheless. I often find that it is sufficient for me to just press the keys, and somehow the story will tell itself. Don’t believe me? I just wrote everything above without a thought in my head.

The key to being a great writer, I’m convinced, is to be a great reader. There is nothing I can say now, or will ever write, that hasn’t been said or written before. But a studious reader understands that there are a million ways to say the same thing, and that’s the beauty, and salvation, of writing. You don’t have to be original. You just have to have a unique dialect. In my case, it also helps to have a really poor opinion of most of today’s writing. I continually lie to myself and say, “I can do better!” And sometimes…I do. Then I pull down a worn copy of Pushkin and think, “shit..fuck this!! I can’t write!” And again, I am right.

So I continue my early morning ritual and if it’s true what they say, that if you give 1,000 monkeys 1,000 typewriters, in a thousand years, one of them will bang out the complete works of William Shakespeare, then surely, if this continues for a thousand mornings, I can bang out something worth reading.

Sadness: The Emotion of Separation from God

Sadness is perhaps our most profound reminder of our separateness from God.

Of all the noble human emotions, nothing illustrates better the chasm that exists between man and his Creator. If we reflect upon the causation of sadness, whether it be loss or feelings of intense separation, we cannot but be reminded of the limitedness of man in relation to the boundless love and healing grace of God. Nothing reminds us more of our ineptitude and failing than our powerlessness to stave off sadness, both in ourselves and in others, and nothing stands in starker contrast to His infinite goodness than our painful descent into continual despair and sadness.

The God we know basks in the eternal ether of all things possible, while man struggles to tread water and survive in an ocean of his own failings. While it is true that we possess the capacity to empathize, and even to a minor extent, to comfort…we do not, nor will we ever, have mastery over the prevention or mitigation of this painful human frailty. We cannot prevent others from causing grief and sadness, and worse yet, neither can we prevent ourselves from inflicting it, despite our best intentions. We can pray for the promise of healing, but we cannot prevent in the first place the tendency to cause.

Even in our closest union with God, we lack the power or the insight of pure love. We condition our compassion upon a human factoring of suffering…and in doing so, we continually miss the mark. In our most benevolent, the best we can do is provide the afflicted with compassion and understanding. We cannot remove the cause nor can we fully ameliorate the effect. In fact, because the closest we can come is to empathize, we often find ourselves likewise “saddened” even as we reach out to staunch to suffering of others.

Jesus, in his human manifestation, experienced and fully understood the debilitation of sadness. His temporal separation from the Father and ensuing grief was clearly manifest in the Garden of Gethsemane as in the deepest throes of isolation and sadness he called out for Peter to “stay with me this dark hour,” a request even his most loving apostle could not accord. Later, upon the cross, the experience of sadness and separation from God most closely reflected our own as he cried out, “My God, why hath thou forsaken me?” His weakness mirrored our own; his sadness a reflection of our own separation from God.