Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Circularity of Fear

a GUEST POST: by JOSH BARKEY

This first excerpt from an old journal seems particularly apropos, given my upcoming foray into the creative unknown...

Sept. 5, '01.
"I'm getting sick and tired of recording my thoughts in this thing. Partly because I'm lazy, but also because I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm a writer producing a steady stream of suck. Still, something's telling me to forsake reason, responsibility and a certain future, to follow the whims of my treacherous muse - to breathe fully the romance of life on the edge - to live within the eye of Making. I'm a fool, perhaps, and an incurable addict of overblown sentimentality, for sure."

Three days later, I was apparently still thinking about it: 

Sept. 8, '01.
"Still, I sit in a restaurant with my friend Jon and his friend, Daniel - two young, married men. I sit there and they tell me to do what I will whilst I may, before marriage grabs the center of who I don't yet know I am and makes me into something I don't yet know I'm not. 

I am a royal screw-up, sans nobility. I babble on, like a doomed, mad king in the last hour of a doomed kingdom. The lights, albeit dimmed, are not yet gone. So nurse another drink and hark my words, as we fade."

Sentimentality, indeed. I guess my present habit of swimming around in melodrama is nothing new. What is it about me - about people, I guess - that we've gotta make drama, where none exists? I've never been too good at just being where I am. I've always let fear creep in and rob me of the present:

Oct. 10, '01.
"I want to write, moment by moment, every thought that enters my mind. I also want to write The Great Novel, but am afraid of my incapability. I am afraid of fixed positions, and fooling myself into believing I've arrived somewhere. I'm afraid of the power ideas have over the minds of others when intertwined with art. I'm afraid of the power. I am afraid I will allow the art to become the end - of becoming a staunchly opposed and opposing old man, hiding behind bastions of thoughts I once had, or ideas others once lent me for the price of time spent between their pages. 

I am afraid of love, and the vulnerability and risk it implies. I am afraid of losing myself into a woman - sacrificing a creative edge to the soft gentleness of that joining. I am afraid of not losing myself into a woman, and growing lonely and alone into the dark of old age. 

I am afraid of sacrificing my dreams and creative hopes to build the cliche that is a family. I am afraid of not sacrificing those things, and realizing at the age of sixty-three, perhaps, that my hopes and dreams are petty things and I am the cliche. 

I am afraid God doesn't exist and I'm fooling myself. I am afraid God does exist, and I'm letting him down - or that I'm screwing it all up and he doesn't even care. 

I am afraid if I don't keep writing and thinking and creating in interesting ways, my friends will abandon me. I am afraid my new girlfriend [aka: future-wife, aka, future-ex-wife] doesn't have a clue about who I am and is just in awe of my mind and creativity (she admitted today that she is "sometimes intimidated by my mind"), and will see my humanity too late. I'm afraid of doing things to intentionally provoke her into that realization. My desire to be known and loved for who I am could, ironically, be the very thing that drives love away. It has happened before.

I am a frightened little child, full of fears that no other person can hope to take or assuage. But they can understand, because they are right there with me. Even if they can't express or explain it, they too fear the isolation and loneliness and hopelessness of being an individual. 

God stands there, and I cannot hope to unravel the mystery of what makes God tock. I've just got one line - faith - and the only way I know how to cling to it is in fear, fearing the hand that draws me inexorably to itself."

Circular... like a carousel. 

There isn't really anything new under the sun, is there? It's eleven years later, and I'm still afraid of all the same things. But I am not, perhaps, quite as afraid... and I am definitely better at writing (it might almost be fair to say that some of the writing above was "inspired by" the original, what with the amount of judicious editing that went into it). 

More importantly, though, I am a little bit better at loving. My latest woman-loving debacle ended when I allowed fear to kill it, sure, but there was more peace in the process, and hope. I will put my faith, therefore, not in a dialectic of progress, but of hope. I will write forward into this next year, believing that in the Making and the Writing of new things, there will be Love.

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