To hope without any real reason for the hope: Random bits from Journal 58

 Maybe I have been thinking, maybe I am still thinking, that I have to write something great. Why not write about Charlie? Having worked for others since, I’ve seen how unique he is. … What do writing teachers do on the days they’re being observed? I’ll ask [my colleagues]. M suggested taking time in each morning to write for others, too, in addition to my Morning Pages. I’ll have to get up earlier, go to bed earlier. I can’t be losing sleep over this. Oh, well. I have no direction with this writing. I have my ambition to write a book, and that’s about it! OK, well, that’s a good place to start. [Page 354, Tues. 25 Oct. 2005]

All distinctions are also merely ideas? Distinctions between people, between things, etc., are all essentially arbitrary? [Page 219-220, Thurs. 13 Oct 2005]

I’m glad it wasn’t a more-serious trial. There were no great stakes either way here. In voir dire, prosecutor asked us if we could sign our names to a guilty verdict. We were deciding between stories. We never decided Truth. The court system is there to deal with problems. It’s not going away; there’s no done, you know? For the judge, the prosecutor, they just need to be there and show up every day. The judge has to be more serious than I do. She has to follow more of a role as judge than I do as teacher. That’s sorta the whole point of justice system–that even basically goofy cases, absurd cases, like yesterday’s have to be treated seriously [Page 283-4, Tues. 18 Oct. 2005]

My first reaction to lots of people’s lives is that I wouldn’t want them. When I say life, I mean where they live, what sort of house they have, their lifestyle. … I felt bad for [my brother], living out there without drinkable water in a trailer. … I don’t really know what I’m expecting–not just newer or fancier, because those houses can seem cold to me. … And funny, too, because it’s not as though our apartment wouldn’t be depressing to someone else who just saw it. You get comfortable wherever you live, I presume. Maybe it’s simply unfamiliarity that’s off-putting to me. [Page 316-7, Sat. 22 Oct. 2005]

♦ Before you can have new thoughts or allow new thoughts to enter, you first have to let go of the old (or at least be willing to let go the old) assumptions, loosen your grip, be willing to give up your current assumptions/worldview for the possibility of something better, broader, more workable/useful in more situations. And maybe you have a teacher who loosens your grip, or maybe you have some eye-opening experience or crisis with your current ideas that reveals to you their inadequacy, and then you might start seeking new, better ideas, or at least be receptive to them when they arrive. But maybe some people never get to that point (or maybe it takes them much longer, or much greater crises) of being receptive. I’m thinking of anyone who’s deeply certain of the value of their beliefs–activists and advocates of all stripes. Pretty much anyone who forwards a position without any doubt, or refuses to consider they might be wrong. If these people haven’t had a crisis, they might not be able to see that there are other ideas out there. And also this gives me a new dose of humility–who knows where the next lesson will come from? The thing to watch out for is certainty. At any point in time, you just know what you know and you can’t know what you don’t know. All you can be is receptive to/accepting of possibilities, the possibility that something I now judge to be wrong might be correct from a different point of view, to admit that I have things to learn yet, that I’m far from being done learning.  [Page 33-35, Sun. 25 Sept. 2005]

Last week showed how much difference rest/sleep makes. Tuesday, I felt just like shit, hated job, wanted to win the lotto, was obsessed with being in debt, but later in the week, forgot almost completely about all things having to do with money. (Was that Dale Dauten’s book where it says to pay your employees well, then help them forget about money?) [Page 253-4, Sunday 16 Oct. 2005]

Why do so many teachers feel they have to be hard-asses, to “make kids learn responsibility,” when really what kids need to learn is adaptability, the ability to recognize what each teacher–whether an asshole or an angel–demands of them in order to get the grade? (Whom did I hear say “I don’t give grades, kids earn them”? What a load of shit.) As teacher, you are the gatekeeper, you decide whom to let through and why. And this is training for employees, no doubt. Whatever the particular jobs you take/do as an adult, you’re nearly always reporting to a supervisor or satisfying a customer–other people are always telling us if we’ve passed or not. In many contexts, they are, anyway–maybe too in relationship contexts? The thing is, art and innovation in any field are different. You sorta need to please (in art) or convince (in science, biz, etc.) others of the value of your new idea, but actually having/producing that new idea requites you to take a real individual step–to go out on a limb, as it were–to create, which is always a lonely process, and to hope without any real reason for the hope that what you’ve done will be found satisfactory (or better) by others. Maybe that’s why art’s hard, and/or why it’s hard to get my creative writing students to break free of the social pressure, even a little. [Page 177-9, Sunday 9 Oct. 2005]

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