Wednesday, January 6, 2016

From Here: An Unvarnished Look at the New Year

The broken fingernails seem distant now. At the time, I swore I would never forget. I swore I would never forget what it was like to drive my body to exhaustion for a wage. I swore I would never forget the humiliation ladled by bosses who were cruel idiots. I swore I would exact revenge in writing when the time came and I was free from the yoke of a paycheck. I swore I would shed light on the crippling inequity that sits like the giant elephant in the American living room.

But here I am, trained in the craft of words, able, to some degree, to wreak my revenge on the hypocrisies of the leisure classes, the investment classes, the tea-sipping foodies in their comfortable foothills living rooms looking down on life of the streets. And the memory has the faded; the fire died down. I am tired, beaten.

Too many classes, too many bills to pay, too many duties to fulfill. It is easy now to cave in, let go, turn it over to some younger writer. The trail I was following has gone cold.

Life did not turn out how I planned. The stories now weigh me down. Voices remind me that I am not good enough, not focused enough, not well-connected enough to publish an account that would hold a reader's interest. I have become boring, passe, and out-of-touch. I have become a teacher-nerd. My edges have been trimmed, ground down, softened.

The lines between the hypocritical haves and the miserable have nots have not blurred, but the easy victim and villain roles have become more complex. I see the roundness, humanity, and defiance of stereotyping at work on both sides of the divide. We're all caught in brutal, vile, overfed system that runs on its own inertia.

My mind has gone fuzzy, memories less sharp, motivation muffled, urgency undone. I can't seem to lift my hand to wave away the flies of mental decline that buzz around me, taunt me.

I hope it returns, that my energy recharges once the resignation of too many hours teaching lifts. This is a new year, after all. Things are possible. I have a chance still, even though money will be tight. This is about will now. If it's going to happen, I have to will myself to do it, to overcome the burden of comfort, of ennui, of padding given to those who have the power to lift the veil of the ugly, grinding machine that is robbing so many of opportunity, of a chance to add a line to the story about the difference between what is possible and what we put up with. I see that my actions will have to align with my visions, dreams, and goals. Somehow, action and thought disconnected.

Ahead of me rises the wall I built myself.

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