I’m making progress on the “shitty first draft,” as Anne Lamott calls them, of my wannabe novel, What Would Jeebus Do. I’ve tattooed the title on my arm and put it on my cap, both strategies to make sure I don’t bail on myself. Bill Kenower, with his stellar book, Fearless Writing, has convinced me this is worth doing, even if nobody ever reads it or the two relatives who do think the final draft is no better than the shitty first draft.
Here’s a part I feel pretty good about: The Dream
I’m doing this novel thing because whatever part of my soul that wants to do it is tired of being ignored, tired of being told it sucks, tired of being compared to real writers, blah, blah, effing blah. I intend to show this part of my soul some love for a change, instead of locking it in the back room when company comes over.
Question: What part of your soul are YOU hiding?
On a Sunday morning after some racist sh**bucket rammed his car into a crowd of peaceful folk in Charlottesville, who were protesting against the “Unite the Right” demonstrators’ Neo-Nazi/KKK bigotry and exclusion, I am clinging to my right to seek joy in spite of everything, for the sake of personal mental stability, and I know of no more eloquent teacher than my main teacher, Tom Robbins:
A: Essentially, “joy in spite of everything” amounts to a kind of defiant attitude, a refusal to be victimized by events over which one has no control. It reflects the belief that life is too short to be wasted in the anger or lamentation that easily could be generated by the era or area in which one, by circumstance, happens to reside. We must recognize the injustice and suffering that abounds in the world and do everything we can to alleviate it, yet in the same instant insist on having one hell of a good time. Some individuals do seem to possess an innate ability to be simultaneously caring and carefree, but most of us have to work at it. It’s easier for me now than it used to be, though I still struggle with it, finding myself tested, for example, every time an evil fruitcake like Mad John Ashcroft (update: Donald Trump / Steve Bannon / Stephen Miller / most of Trump’s “administration) opens his (or her) nazified yap.
Now it has occurred to me to point out that “joy in spite of everything” also amounts to a recognition that all existence is really cosmic theater, and therefore ought never to be taken too seriously. From that perspective, John Ashcroft is merely another actor playing out his role. Sure, Ashcroft wants to turn America into a Christianized Iran with himself as Ayatollah, but as dangerous and reprehensible as that is, it’s his role, and that role may well be an essential part of the ongoing drama. From the Tao, we learn that light and darkness are perpetually revolving, and we cannot have one without the other. From a cosmic perspective, it’s a self-righteous mistake to align oneself with the light against the dark, to always think in terms of “us” against “them”. By all means, vigorously oppose Ashcroft and everything he stands for, but resist the trap of becoming attached to that opposition, bearing in mind that it is also part of the existential drama — and its ultimate purpose may be to help keep the “story” interesting.