A Quiet Joy, I Suppose

The easy excuse is “I’ve been grading.” But it’s not true. I write most when I’m busy. My productivity thrives on pressure.

I’ve run up on a shore of some kind, somewhere. I don’t know what to call it yet. A disposition just shy of melancholy. Paralyzing, in a satisfying way. When sleep finally conquers and washes over you and knocks you out and brings you the rest you need. That sort of paralysis. A surrender of sorts. It’s kept me from writing and arguing. It’s made me feel a few things, but mostly the vague feeling that it is not healthy to always feel so much.

There is beauty in calloused hands.

I’ve been in Texas, visiting family. Watched a few movies — “The Hobbit” and “Life of Pi.” Tried to see “Anna Karenina,” but we went to the wrong theatre and missed it. Ate a lot too. Nothing was incredibly good, but nothing was bad either, and it was comforting. Familiar and warm. Some respite from the foreign cold of North Dakota.

No need to share everything. A blog is not a clothesline. Not for me, not anymore, not now.

I have several unfinished projects to complete. The sorts of things I usually diddle with till they’re done. And blogging. They’re not getting done, but they will. It isn’t writer’s block or depression. It isn’t anything other than something a little different from the norm. That’s what I’m writing about. (You may recall: one of my favorite things to write about is not writing.)

It’s not about Newtown either. Newtown. What an easy way to say it. One word: Newtown.

I’m feeling numb. Current events don’t seem current. Old. Dated. Tiresome. I should have lots to say about it. I wrote about school shootings some time ago, in a very academic essay review for Educational Theory. I’ve given the general phenomena a lot of thought.

I’m numb. Not sad, and certainly not happy. I tried feeling sad. Praying. Outrage was uncharacteristically absent. I tried to feel but I also avoided feeling anything at all. I love my boys already and I don’t need a murderer to remind me about that. I cry enough reading them a beautiful book.

I certainly didn’t want to write an opinion column about it where I say something really interesting and kind of edgy, dressed-down in vulnerable, self-chastening prose. Jeans and a V-neck. Get a ton of hits and traffic and feel pretty good about that. Maybe some comments.

I don’t know what exploitation is really. Not when it comes to blogging. I mean, on a good month I’ll pay my phone bill with the hours I spend writing here. It hasn’t happened yet. No one buys my books and I don’t blame them. The next ones will be better. They’d better be. Maybe not good, but better.

I’ll ask you to help me raise funds on Kickstarter to record an album at some point. Is that exploitation?

Who knows? But I do like the attention. I think it’s partly why I teach, profess, why I stand there and do that thing I do. Why I write, too. There’s a vocation in there somewhere. These days I have more faith in the rabbinic, magisterial vocation of writing — writing as teaching — than the so-called exploitation of it all. The scruples of ministry.

“Rejoice in the Lord always.” No need to be loud about it. Roses don’t fuss like pink carnations.


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