© Aron Hsiao / 2002
People tend not to appreciate clarity when they have it. It’s taken for granted; it becomes a part of the background of everyday life. It seems so self-evident, and even more to the point, it often points toward what-is-to-be-done, often not done yet, and so can even seem to have something of an irritating character.
There have been times in life when I wished that I was more hazy, or that I was “one of the clueless people” so that I slid through life with only a vague idea of what might be happening.
That sort of wishing is beyond stupid.
It is only once clarity is gone that it becomes clear just how much worse life is without it. Even if clarity tells you that you are both miserable and sunk, you are at least left with the courage of your convictions and an understanding of yourself and the world to which you can refer.
At this moment in life, I live without clarity, and it is terrible. Not knowing the good from the bad, the right from the wrong, the desirable from the undesirable, moment by moment; not having any idea which action is the right action and which action is the wrong action—these sorts of ambiguities make life miserable.
The thing that I long for most in life right now is clarity. Clarity of memory, clarity of purpose, clarity of belief, clarity of understanding, clarity of initiative, and of course clarity of future, which everyone would love, to some extent, but I’d certainly settle for the rest even if clarity about the future is impossible.
To not know what you think or believe, to not be able to weigh the things that you know and remember—it is an unsettling feeling.
— § —
The fireworks are going off. It’s summer but it’s not too hot. The car is running. My career is reasonably sound.
It should be a fairly good season in life, but of course it isn’t right now.
— § —
I wrote another chapter today. It’s funny, with fiction.
It’s so easy and yet also so hard.
I look back at the state of the book so far and it’s quite good, I think. But this “quite goodness” blies a number of difficulties that I suspect are at the essence of the difficulty in writing fiction.
First, just because I think that it’s quite good doesn’t mean that anyone else will think so. It is a reflection of my psyche and particular habits of language, not those of others, much less of any “general public.”
Second, the fact that it is actually quite easy to start writing, to blast out some chapters, then to begin to to line them up in interesting ways, to craft a skeletal outline to hold them up, and then to write to fill in the gaps—doesn’t mean that it’s an easy process to go through, big picture. It’s not the labor or the imagination that’s hard. It’s the letting go. Letting go of illusions, letting go of possibilities, letting go of insecurities, letting go of aspirations. These things are hard to do. It’s a mental difficulty—not a creative one, but one related to the ego.
Third, with each new word you write, you also increase the reality of complications and the need for rewrites and revisions later on. As you do work, you make work. This is a different kind of “letting go” but it is also letting go nonetheless. You have to let go of the idea of progress, and of the desire to be free of the work. Otherwise, you will hesitate to do it, as to do the work is to make more work.
But in any case, I am working on it once again. At the same time, I have the distinct urge also to work on another writing project. Something for kids, maybe. Something more fun. Something lighter and happier.
I suppose that speaks to what is missing from my life right now, and what I’d like to increase in it.
— § —
Some people just can’t quite ever understand each other properly, don’t see each others’ deep feelings, though everyone has them.
That’s one of those sad realities that you hear as a young person and dismiss to some extent, but as you get older, you realize that it’s true.
And whether or not people actually see each other deeply and empathetically has as much to do with what they already think is appropriate behavior for different emotions as anything else. It’s a matter of culture and background. What does “sadness” look like? What does “happiness” look like? It depends on where you go.
“People are people,” goes the conventional wisdom, but it’s bullshit. If people were simply people, most of the conflict in the world would end. People are different. And they cannot tolerate these differences. And to say that this is sad or wrong doesn’t change the fact that it is true, for everyone.
What a ramble. But I suppose that’s how things get on a Sunday night.
— § —
So here I sit, listening to the fireworks and feeling time pass underneath and through me as I race toward 41 years old.