Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This is not the way to start a day

I was blissfully, happily, and deeply asleep when the phone screamed at me and yanked me back to this world where I stumbled, nearly blind, to the phone for an unavailable call that just had to be answered. It was the secretary for the new job I just got, the one for medical transcription that will let me stay home and work in various states of disarray and deshabille (if I wear anything at all) but for which I must fly to New Jersey, land of toxic waste disposal, landfills, and The Sopranos, two weeks from today to take two very expensive and at my own expense days of training. Oh, they will send a car to pick me up at LaGuardia airport in New York and take me back and they will ferry me back and forth from the hotel (way too expensive for my tastes) to the job for training, but I have been informed everyone is happy to put themselves out for training that could very well be accomplished online because they are a family. Somehow waking me rudely from needed sleep is actually what my family would do so maybe they are telling me the gospel. At least after weeks and months of being told I'm over qualified (employer speak for you're worth more than we want to pay and you probably wouldn't stick around long anyway) I have a job that pays a hefty salary every two weeks.

So here I am trawling blogs and journals to see what everyone else has been up to while I have been pupating.

One friend is awake at 4 a.m. because of his and his wife's colds and another is writing about self absorption that does not seem to me to be self absorption at all but focus on his work and his livelihood. That's not self absorption.

As I told him, self absorption is focusing on clothes, shoes, handbags, belts, and personal appearance to the point you must turn a room or two into a closet to house your things, working endless hours at a very good paying job to make more money to buy more things for yourself and thinking of no one but yourself to the exclusion of anyone or anything...not children, friends, spouses, lovers, family, or even passing strangers or the people who offer their service to you. You don't look anyone in the eye and you couldn't give a description of your own family because you don't look them in the eye or even know who they are, which is evidenced by the fact that the last time you remembered their birthday or bought them a gift at Xmas it was the kind of gift that you would buy for a charity drive. That is self absorption.

Of course you could argue that even having a public online journal is akin to self absorption, or that keeping paper journals is focusing too much on the self, but that is not necessarily the case. A journal is also a place to explore the world and your views on the world which you must look in the eye, study, devour, and catalogue in order to write about. Yes, writers are peculiar people and most of us are research hounds who love the thrill, the exhilaration, the sheer joy of delving deeply into the archives of life and coming up with insights, thoughts, and story lines that will one day bear fruit, and sometimes diving deep into the pool of memory to resurrect, relive, and otherwise chronicle the lives of people who will not always walk this earth. That is fascination and curiosity and love of knowledge, not self absorption. You may disagree if you like and tell me I'm out of my mind, and you would likely be right--most writers are somewhat out of their minds, especially when they're writing, or they would not be able to create and people such fascinating alternate realities, but we are far from being self absorbed.

Trail a writer and watch their expressions, body language, and interaction with the world around them and you will find them life absorbed. To be sure there are clothes hounds and writers who are devoted to acquiring wealth, material and financial, but while they are self absorbed momentarily they are most obviously life absorbed especially when they're writing, researching, and editing, or simply giving a bit of their knowledge back to the vast pool of information from which all writers--and people--dip their cups. Writers can tell you the intricate details and mental workings of someone they met five minutes ago with insights and acuity that would stun the subject of their intense scrutiny as well as their families and friends who do not know them so well. Writers are nearly psychic about people and events in the near and far future--look at Jules Verne and many other so called science fiction fantasists for proof.

My family has always looked at me as though I were a cuckoo in their nest or a changeling left by gypsies and called me a dreamer. As I told them, and tell them still today, without dreamers and their dreams we would all still be eating raw meat or lightning struck animals still smoking and charred from nature's electric attention while we huddled deep in autumn's drift of leaves in some dank and wet cave instead of communicating in a heartbeat's time with people around the world with flashes of light.

Okay, so maybe this is the way to start a day.

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