⚡ June 30, 1999
The Spirals of Our Lives 🌀
10:42 a.m. And so the conveyor belt brings us to today. When you first wake up, do you position yourself on the emotional-time continuum by a) looking at the clock so you know if you’re early or late, then b) figuring out what day it is and quickly shrugging on the mentalics of that particular word: Monday blue, Wednesday whoknows, Sunday best, for instance; and then c) remembering what month/year it is so that you know what outer layers to slip into before you even get into the bathroom? From the moment “I” leave the crazy party in my dreams, I’m racing like Cinderella in reverse to the carriage pulled by mice: Ah yes! Here we are. Today … it’s Wednesday. I’m late already.
What if you just woke up one day and it was just … one day? Not a vacation day nor a deadline day, but just … a day? Has there ever been such a day? Unspattered by thought, experienced first-hand? Not “today I … “ but just today without Aye-aye-sir, the dictator, rattling off commands in your ear?
Where am I? Who am I? Why am I?
This morning, I pulled one of my old journals down off the shelf – why? I knew I was looking for something, but what? You can’t find the answer if you don’t know the question. That’s the beauty of record-keeping. Open up an old journal and you’re Alex Trebeck. Suddenly, you have all the questions.
Here’s a question from 1992, in which I was bemoaning the fact that not much had changed in six years: in the journal, it was 1986 and I was still trying to write the novel, do the files, find a house to live in. I was worrying that I was just going around in circles, ending up exactly where I started, only older. Talk about repetitive cycles. But, you see – that’s the point of each day, every day – we don’t move forward in an unbroken march to the sea … at least, I don’t. I circle. I cycle.
And then, in 1996, another ten years have passed and I pick up another journal and write about what I find in it. I was still looking for a way to start the book, another book, and I was looking for an idea – something, anything – and I opened the small gray wave journal, #25 (1991), and what do I find? A paragraph exactly like the paragraph above. Exactly. How do I start, where do I begin? Ect. Ect. Ect. I want to be in a house, the traffic noise is pretty loud, I ate too much rotini the night before and I have a slight/terrible salty headache. I might even take or am trying to get over the effects of an antihistimine.
Have I learned nothing in all these years?
And then, it comes to me! It’s not circles we’re spinning here, after all – it’s spirals! Looks like circles close up, true, but step back a few years and check and sure enough: spirals. The subtle turnings of the screw shank can at least be counted up and savored, even if it looks on the suface as if no progress, no progress at all, has been made. Am I deeper or higher than I was before?
I was sitting outside at the time, I remember, when I wrote that particular insight down. It was a few years ago on a day much like today, only different; my 40th birthday Penguin pen was the same, but the ink was a different color; I was wearing the same exact t-shirt from Echo that says “AND NOW?” only it, like me, was less faded. It was summer again, and there were the same immortal clouds and crickets and impatiens as today, and I was lucky enough to have a yard to sit in and a tree to sit under, even if we were renting both from a movie actress who should remain unnamed if we want to keep on working in this town, but who certainly will not go undescribed.
And I looked up at the immense tree, all the way to the top where the branches were waving and gently swaying as if underwater, throbbing with invisible currents in the river of time. And I thought how gentle the learning curve can be for us humans, sometimes. Relentless, circular repetitions, over and over again, and we learn to grow big and strong, spiralling taller and deeper at the same time, thanks to all the days, like so many millions and millions of leaves, that we carry around with us in a gently wavering nimbus of memories.
Tomorrow is just another today. . 🐔