Sunday, February 22, 2015
Finally reading Joyce Carol Oates again. She speaks of the euphoria of work. This is why I read her. Because she speaks of the euphoria of the writing life (and at times of what keeps it from being euphoric).
I’m only here as light is joining the yard. Went to bed without my phone to wake me, and without my watch, the one I’ve had since Mom bought it for me at Kohl’s as a Christmas present, fifteen years ago. It stopped keeping time a week or so ago. I was awake anyway, but not knowing the time, I did not get up, and I missed the dark.
Coming out, the one bunny who always seems to be the earliest riser, is watching for me. I imagine she is one and the same each morning, and that she is as used to me as me to her. It is so cold, I’ve begun to feel guilty when I don’t get the food out. Well “fine” as Angela used to say when she didn’t want to swear. I care. So shoot me. And shoot me twice when I’m too lazy to come out or that I get lazy at all.
The insidiousness of guilt.
So back to “the euphoria of work.” Wondering if anybody has noticed what got into Anne Lamott? I figure she’s older than me and so needs to make more money. Now she writes inspirational books.
The furnace turns off and there is a swell of silence.
Joyce Carol Oates, writing in her journal in September of 1980, speaks of the “crushing” competition by people no one in the “literary” world has ever heard of, including Stephen King who has a novel about an eight-year-old who sets things on fire with his eyes. I think back to my Stephen King reading days and am pretty sure the 80’s were about when his novels held me, but I don’t remember the fire starter, and am tickled by the idea of King being unknown.
After this diversion I am back to euphoria. To the work JCO also calls, “a sacramental act.” This … is joining. I’ll never forget when I first heard (from my friend Christie) that a sacrament is an outward manifestation of an inner reality. No wonder we need sacraments and rituals. Where else is the inner reality honored?
I look up and spot a hawk 50 yards away, perched in one of his usual spots, peering down toward the freeway exit ramp that runs behind the fence. Then another bunny hops in from the right, and I know this is not my usual friend. This one is scruffier. He stops along the path to eat. I try to see what it is he likes and guess that it is bread and that he would like anything about now. We are in deep freeze. I’ll turn the furnace off again for another week of it. This spell of being back is my birthday treat, my entry into the decade of my sixties. I didn’t want to start out without my cabin time. And I was missing the place. This is where I go to be “gone.” I am gone into “a zone.” This is my own most familiar feeling of joining, I realize. This is where I feel it the most. This is, perhaps, the way it is felt by “working” mystics, writers, artists, and musicians. Where we combine with what we are creating.
With joining comes the euphoria of direct experience, no matter how it comes. In the midst of creating I am in that euphoria. In passionate conversation with a friend, I am there. I am there when I bathe a grandchild. Often (but not always) when writing I am there. During meditation and while doing a word puzzle, I am gone into that place where I am fully there (not thinking but only being). In the midst of receiving ACOL the first time, and in creating the audio books now, I experience the euphoria of vocational work as well as of receiving. What I mean is that I am not other than what is happening in that open space, not standing back, not a “me” and most fully “me.” There are so many ways and places of joining, all linked to the heart.