What I am doing right now is called writing, but I know that is not what I truly want to do.
Writing is tough. It takes time and energy. The grammar police always hides behind the bush, both inside my mind and out in the world. And of course, it does not make money—at least enough to justify explaining my work as a “writer” to others. I never got paid from my writing, and probably I will not.
I don’t write in order to argue with other people or prove my point of view. If someone comes along and challenges me about the legitimacy in my writing, I just shrug my shoulders and back off slowly, fade into a wallflower in that cocktail party scene, wait until that person finds another toy to play with. Wimpy? Yep. But seriously, I don’t have the desire to prove that I am right—to others. I only need to prove to one person, and that’s me. That sounds so lonely when laid out in texts, but that’s true. Yet being a human being, I am filled with an over-the-top joy when someone tells me that she thinks what I wrote is right, or even better, interesting.
Interesting. That’s the keyword. All I want to do is to find something “interesting.” What is the state of being interested, after all? It occurs when I find something (A) true but (B) previously not obvious. To find something interesting is to find a truth. It doesn’t have to be The truth or Your truth. It only has to be My truth, whether it has a significant impact on my sense of identity or just gives me a small chuckle to lift my spirit up for 5 minutes. But it has to be true, at least to me. Of course it might be more fun to find a universal truth than a personal truth, but sadly I have only one “truth filter” and that’s my own body. I write because I want to touch the truth. You may say I am looking for God, or personal Jesus. So be it—I don’t give a damn.
Indeed, all these sound very personal and private. If I am just digging into a mental sandbox to find the missing coins or cards, why do I need to show the result to others in the name of writing, after all? A truth is a truth. It does not have to be cleansed to make it less “authentic,” doesn’t it? But here is the problem. I do not know what I have dug up, until I brush off the dust and polish the outer skin. Just like precious stones are always wrapped by pressurized rocks, my truth is just a chunk of tangled web of consciousness in its raw form. In order to see what is really inside, I need to reach out for my knife, sandpaper, or toothbrush: my writing.
Writing is polishing. I know my tools are far from perfect. English is my second language, and after all, language itself has never been perfect, which is a reason why we haven’t gotten tired of churning series of text lines even after seeing damn near perfections done by Shakespeare, Mark Twain, or Dylan Thomas. (Also we have a great mechanism called memory loss, but let’s ignore that for a moment—show some mercy, please.) But after all, writing is the only set of tools I have acquired over the years. Some people use musical instruments. Or paint brush. Or their own body. I use words.
That’s right, what we do under the name of art is always about seeing, touching, or revealing a truth, any truth. The reason we are moved by watching a great movie, listening to a song, reading a prose, or dancing in unison with a partner is because we touch the truth, or the universe, for a brief moment. How good it would be, we imagine, if we can stay in this moment forever. But that moment almost always quickly fades away, leaving us with even more desire. For me, I am eternally that 7-year-old version of mine who had the chance to glance into the skirt of the cute girl next door, only for once. She might have even smiled at me. I don’t know, and I will never know.
What if I found a way to connect to the truth all the time? Maybe that’s what they call enlightenment. But I need to think about this: Do I still want to make love when there is always someone with me, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? I am not exactly sure. Again, I don’t know, and I will never know. Well, as any soccer fan in an overcrowded bar can show me, the greatest moment comes right before the climax. That expectation, the craving for the 0.5 second leading to the ecstasy, is what makes it worth the game, and what makes us…us. Why stay inside the supreme state, even though it is “supreme?”
I guess I want to stay in this world and wait a bit more to catch the next glimpse of her smile. Or her underwear. Therefore I write, for now. But now is the only moment I have.