Morning Pages 11/3/13

by Chris de Serres

Cloud Atlas blew my mind. It is a reminder of how interconnected we are. We don’t think much about it but those in our past are influencing us every day. I became an advocate for victims of abuse for myself, but partly for my best friend who tragically took his life. His memory reminds me every time I go back to it. I don’t know if we exist again and again. If reincarnation isn’t merely something to relieve our death anxiety. If there is a heaven. If we are merely energy that is redeposited elsewhere once our physical body expires. I don’t know. It’s something I don’t need convincing on. All I know is somehow I found myself here on this couch. With this slumbering, fuzzy golden retriever at my feet. She is the most relaxed lifeform in existence right now. Maybe the irony is that my dog knows something I don’t. Maybe she knows the answers we have been seeking, but she just can’t convey it in words. Her message seems to be relax and lick your paws. Eat. Take a dump in the backyard. Chew on a fuzzy ball for a few minutes. Calm the fuck down Chris.

I don’t know how writers write. It seems that every one has their own way that works for them. My writing space is a preschool room. There is a multicolored ‘circle time’ rug below me. Two toddler Starbucks-style comfy chairs to my left. There are alot of books. That’s very writer-ey I guess. I suppose trying to write is sort of like being like a child. Children don’t spend time judging themselves or worrying about reincarnation or bills. They don’t need order. They just float from one interesting thing to the next. They love to laugh and they are engaged in their surroundings and influenced by them, and it shows in their expressions, which comes naturally and beautifully and readily. There are no poker faces in childhood. There are no mechanisms of self-protection. They don’t need to hide away their hurt feelings in a closet. They are what you see. I can scarcely find that child within me. Which is why I enjoy helping my wife with her preschool because then it just comes out and when it does I am around people like me. You can trust children. You can be a child. You can be silly and wrong and you can express yourself freely. Not all adults are able and willing, and children know that.

I wonder what children think when they see us adults, in our preoccupation. Hovering around with our smartphones in our faces and laptops on our laps. They must wonder what we are looking for. Adulthood must seem a dreary place. A place that’s so different from how they experience the world. My daughter is always trying to break me out of that place. All I need to give her is one whacky look and she knows she has me, and it’s a victory for us both. Soon she is chasing me around the house or we are creating an army of plastic dinosaurs who will demolish everything in it’s path. Being a father, and thus a child, is the most natural feeling to me. I never wonder how I am perceived. There is no awkward conversation. No pretense. If you to the Self-Help section of any bookstore there is an endless selection on how to find the thing that is the hallmark of childhood: how to be in the moment. Don’t read a book. Spend some time with children.

There is this video on the internet. It’s a lady musing on loneliness and what to do about it. It’s very childlike. Even her voice as she speaks. She strums a solitary guitar, over and over. She awkwardly blows into a harmonica. All of these inexpert musical sounds form a collage that sounds like a song. As she tells me, the viewer, it’s okay to be alone. You don’t have to be lonely. Then she does the most inspired things. Like goes to a club and dances by herself, in the most unselfconscious way. You think she’ll probably be laughed at. But she’s laughing too. Then you wonder, like me, if you had the courage to do that. She lists the places where it’s okay to be alone. The bathroom, the coffee shop. As you watch this you question why are we so afraid of being alone. Why shouldn’t I put that smartphone in my pocket and just exist where I am, alone? When did we become so fearful of ourselves and existing where we are at any particular time? We need to look like we are doing something. We always need to be connected to others. We are anxious when we are not. It’s okay to be alone. Even if you are married and have a large family. You need to be alone. Don’t fear it.

Many years ago I went trekking alone in Alaska. I was truly alone. I was 10 miles from the nearest road. There was little chance I would run into another human being. I stayed out there for a week. It was the most alone I have ever been in my life. I started to have conversations with myself. There were herds of caribou coming through the valley. I watched a Grizzly bear breastfeed her cub. I took all my clothes off and washed myself buck naked in a stream of water. I walked on the Muldrow Glacier, with huge lakes of blue water within it. I did things I never would have done with other people around. A large Caribou came down from the mountains each evening and grazed near my tent. I didn’t say a word to him, but we were communicating. He let me take many beautiful pictures of him, with his proud antler rack.

Being alone is okay. Every one should be alone. It’s glorious.