Some years back, I was going through life with about the same enthusiasm of a tired, latter-day Elvis in Vegas, minus the stellar career and the riches. The idea of rising early, at five in the morning — to write, of all things — would have been unthinkable. I would have been either too busy, hungover, or depleted and depressed to want to address the tangle of thoughts within the folds of my brain and make something beautiful from it.
As I write this piece in pre-dawn quiet, I am glad I rose at night to start my day. At this hour, nobody else is awake, the phone will not ring, and I have nothing to solve or strike off a list. Usually, apart of my waking routine is to read beautifully written poetry or prose to tickle my frontal lobe into sentience and sanity.
Until recently, I cannot recall when I last got up — if ever — and went straight to the blank page with my own writing. What I do know is it is happening more often with each passing day. Granted, it doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, I feel I am guided to my desk by a sense of urgency, generally after an idea, a string of associations or — more rarely — a dream, still slightly dazed from sleep, and write in stream of consciousness, no editing.
We writers will often quote a variety of reasons why we write. Mine are to dig for beauty, capture or create lives, provoke thought, transform pain, discover truths and connect with others. In my cathartic journal-writing years, I would write mostly to figure myself out, or to lament all the things I wasn’t writing. If it holds true that one writes to satisfy the mind, how come so many of us are blind when satisfying the heart?
Indeed, the concept of the human heart can only ever be opaque, afflicted as it is by the sense-warping fever of its passions, as by the limits of the language we describe it with. This irreconcilable duality between heart — the irrational celebration of impulse — and mind — thought and awareness — is not very well expressed by the reductionist yet overloaded noun “love,” for example, so inadequately overused to classify what is more a multiplicity of adjectives concerning various degrees of elation, desire, pleasure and emotional attunement, far more than one single state.
Yet so many of us — like myself, once — are not loving the lives we have; we’re not living what we love, nor are we loving who we are. We find ourselves lacking in purpose. As a species, we thrive on creation and inventiveness, but are often derailed by gluttony, becoming destructive to ourselves, as to others.
Because I glutted myself in the realm of sensory pleasures and instant gratification for many years, most of my thirsts and unbridled passions were first satisfied, then numbed by sheer nauseating excess. Only now, in hindsight, do I see how enslaved I was by my own body and its impulses.
Having been an unplanned and late child in my mother’s life led to a degree of over-protectiveness until I came of age, after which I spiraled somewhat out of control. It seems I had to be done with the grittier, impulsive and more distracting aspects of carnality — and believe me, it took me years — before being able to experience enough inner stillness from which to learn, practice and create. If those were my decades of the self and body, then these which follow seem poised to be my decades of the mind.
What I mean about inner stillness may seem like a paradox — today, as on other days before this, within minutes of waking, I found myself at my desk doing what writer Julia Cameron calls “morning pages” of automatic writing, in a frenzy of thought. And yet this act of creation comes from keen observation and deep reflection; and both faculties thrive in stillness and space.
It used to be that any such writing I did do was confined strictly to my private journals, so for the first time in many years, the nature of this frenzy is not self-obsessed; not confined to the reductive narrative of my ego; it is, rather, an ecstasy of the intellect, a sense of wonderment with ideas, with the process of thought itself — with the source of it all.
What I mean by “source” refers to the endless reservoir of ideas located who knows where — the “ether,” perhaps? Over time, it has earned itself many names, and while some will call it the Akashic records; others will call it God, and others still, Collective Consciousness. For the sake of a purely referential name, I enjoy calling it The Vortex of Vast — some undefinable, irreducible, and timeless repository of the unmanifest — from which we can all draw. But first, we need to shed a few layers.
Nakedness alerts the skin to the freshness of air, but terrified as I was of my own emotional vulnerability, I suffocated mine with layer upon layer of emotional garbs, pores clogged; body-mind muddled by escapist, chemical cul-de-sacs.
It takes a great deal of attunement to be a receptor to the unmanifest — to feel the delicate process at work, watching ideas collide like atoms and setting them in physical form — and this is what produces the sense of wonderment I refer.
Although my antenna was always there, unbroken, I was a faulty receptor, like a radio with a broken speaker, issuing an overabundance of noise and unclear messages to anyone who would tune in; cryptic fragments of greater narratives that sometimes, not even I understood. In the rare moments when I was not busy, I might have even felt some sense of its existence, but I certainly couldn’t create from it.
I have spoken, in the recent past, of the disappointment I felt in relation to my errant years — those spent not writing creatively; those of being opaque, hiding from others, unwilling to connect. And the nature of this disappointment is the short duration of our individual lives and how much I still want to explore and grow as an artist. I will say it again: as an artist. If you only knew the hurdles I had to conquer to call myself that without feeling like an imposter, you would gauge the true extent of my quantum leap.
To say that I have no regrets is a lie — there are some — but unlike the many who proudly say they would do it all over again — as much as I get the sentiment behind it — I do not know that I would.
The lack of ambition, a resigned indifference to my status of trembling leaf in the breeze of life, that very refusal of my potential to act rather than being acted upon, are states I do not wish to return to.
Instead, I am enjoying my newfound sense of purpose, pleasure, and craft which now, at last, makes me the kind of writer I always wanted to be.
For those readers who see themselves only on the receiving end of the arts, I have some parting thoughts. Should you feel the pull of your creative spirit — and you do have one, we all do — whichever medium you would like to express yourself in, know that creativity requires three things to flourish: mental space, regular practice and self-compassion.
And remember: if there is one thing sure to spook your muse, it is your absence — she does not take kindly to being ghosted and will often ghost you in return. Inspiration comes from presence. So, make space, show up, learn, practice, be patient, and soon, you too will feel the pleasure of drawing from The Vortex of Vast.
© Pedro B. Gorman
If you enjoyed my writing, and especially, if you enjoyed my audio narration, feel free to follow: there will be much more of both, and original music. In the meantime, here are some recent taster to whet your appetites.