peaks and valleys
The daily bark awakens me again. The van comes to pick up the owner at 6 am for work and the dog walks to the fence and starts barking and the owner gets in the van and they drive off and then it finally stops barking and walks back behind the house. He says nothing to the dog like it doesn’t exist. Doesn’t it annoy him? It annoys me here behind closed windows across the street.
The good thing about this constant barking is that my wife has cooled down about getting the dog. I’m glad because I was never a big fan of dogs. Too dependable for me. Too loud. I was always a cat person since they are more civilized, more independent. I think this says things about me. I’m not a big fan of people who are too loud or too dependable; people who have gotten everything on a silver platter.
I don’t want to dumb myself down. And I think I dumbed myself down with self-censoring. Deciding I wouldn’t write about writing because a more skilled writer said I shouldn’t. I’m sorry, but I think about writing. It’s true. I think self-censoring is a form of pretending. Wishing to have better and more interesting and more beautiful thoughts, which is why there is no inspiration. The disregard for the actual thoughts because I am waiting for the better ones to come. And they rarely do with that attitude.
Writing is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Hemingway: “All you have to do is write one true sentence”. And then write another one that’s more true. Then publish only the things that you like, that you would like to read, that you think should exist. That’s it. The rules are simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Here I am, struggling to write a thousand words. I’m not even close to that number. I’m telling myself I’ll stop at seven hundred. But I keep going because it reminds me of running. Peaks and valleys. I have to survive the valleys for the peaks to come. That’s why I go on, not thinking too much about the quality, just writing what I think is true.
I think it’s good to work on things that I want to become better at for a long time without expecting too much in return. And not just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. I think that shows disrespect to people who give me their attention. I think I should attempt to create the best thing I can. That way, I won’t be ashamed of it looking back. Maybe the reason I like writing is because no one got their skill on a silver platter. It’s just sustained effort over long periods of time. Pursuing beauty. Getting a little bit closer with every attempt.
P asks me about that spreadsheet where you track your habits every day. Although I’ve tried using it for months, I wouldn’t recommend it anymore. The damn spreadsheet turns your life into Your Life Inc. and employs you there as a volunteer. In the beginning, it feels like it turns everything up a notch: you feel better for sticking to your habits and worse for not sticking to them than you would without the spreadsheet. But later, you get used to it so you stop feeling better and start asking yourself why you are doing it.
I think we are biased towards tracking things too much because of how available the technology is. Because we can. But that doesn’t mean we should. I don’t care how many steps I’ve taken in a day or how much I’ve slept or how fast my heart is beating right now or what’s my reading streak or how long I have been sitting. I think I know how I feel and don’t need the app to condescendingly tell it to me.
The older I get, the more I realize how important not being my own enemy is. No one can sabotage you as much as you can sabotage yourself. That’s one of the reasons I like reading books. And that’s why I like writing in my journal. What mistakes do people keep making? What mistakes do I keep making? Sometimes, I learn more from a moment when I relive it in retrospect than when it’s happening. Someone said that you should try to be the best version of yourself all the time because someone is always watching your every action: your future self. Maybe self-respect is nothing other than having a good reputation with yourself, with the future self that is watching you.
I aim to learn from other people’s mistakes because I think that’s better than learning from my own. Unfortunately, this kind of writing is hard to find on social media since everyone likes to hide their failures and brag about their successes. Most of social media is like that. Propping yourself up all the time. Performative bragging. Selling the enhanced version of yourself.
Still. I keep making mistakes. I keep checking Twitter’s demonic “For You” feed. I check Slack and email before I start writing. Annoyances keep bothering me and pulling me down, so the inspiration doesn’t come. I remember that all the past problems look like “problems” in retrospect when something serious happens, so I feel silly because I’m bothered so much. I don’t write a word for a month, and then I’m surprised that I don’t have any ideas. Yet, I allegedly love writing. I repeat to myself what I’ve known for years — peaks and valleys. My energy levels through the day. My writing habit. The economy. So I go. I delete the Twitter app from my phone again. I start writing every morning again. “One true sentence”. And then another, line after line. Again and again. Until I hit a thousand words.