“I tell my piano the things I used to tell you.”
Wake is such a perfect word for the moment. Wake: a watch, a vigil, after something has died. Wake: a trail of disturbed water left by some unstoppable craft. Wake: the aftermath. Wake: to stir, to be roused from sleep.
In the wake of all of this, I’ve been trying to stay away from Twitter, trying to visit the bliss station, trying to be alone with my thoughts. But my curse is that I can’t seem to have thoughts without speaking them. I need to speak to think and to know what I’m thinking. This can be potentially disastrous in public, and in private, it puts an undue burden on my loved ones, because conversation is like the mood slime in Ghostbusters: to speak thoughts is to transfer thoughts, and the listener, no matter what, always absorbs something. (Why else are shrinks so expensive?) My wife and I try to save our conversation for the open air on our morning walks, the idea being that most of any bad energy we release will be carried away by the wind. But it doesn’t always work out that way. And, for both of us, as much as we want to stay light, to be the light or reflect it, our thoughts have, not inappropriately, gotten darker in the past months.
So I’ve been spending more and more time in the pages of my notebook. Talking in black ink. Letting the pages absorb any poison. Scratching out thoughts if I can’t stand to look at them. Underlining the thoughts I want to save, to share, maybe even, God forbid, tweet.
It’s a simple idea that I said over and over on the journal tour: a notebook is a good place to have bad ideas. It’s also a safe space to share your secrets. To think the unthinkable. To say the unsayable…
If you’re struggling, too, consider getting a paper notebook. (I’m happy to sell you mine, but any cheap drugstore one will do.) Spend some time with it every day. Fill it with your bad thoughts, your bad ideas. Tell it all the things you shouldn’t tell Twitter. It won’t judge you, troll you, or talk back to you. It won’t spy on you, ping you, or notify you. When you’re done with it, you can burn it for heat, or you can save it for your children, so they know what it was like.
(A page from The Steal Like An Artist Journal. Perhaps I should’ve added “jailed” or “deported.”)