On the Burdens of Persistence

A month of literary respite is about to close. Not just respite—but rest, reprieve, retreat. Apart from the occasional sallies, I’ve hidden behind the cryptic eloquence of poetry and prose.

There was, of course, the occasional dissatisfaction (why am I permitting this?) and the not-so-occasional anxiety (what if I never get into the rhythm of writing daily again?). But more often than not there was just the startled relief (I don’t have to write anything just yet…) coupled with the confused melancholy of the imminent end (next week, I’ll need to write again).

This mass of schizophrenic desires (so typical of our age—or, at any rate, of my age in this age) simply demonstrates how easily the most significant of our accomplishments degenerates into the most trying of tasks. Yesterday’s triumph rapidly devolves into tomorrow’s obligation, and we forget (far too often) that we chose the very things that occur to us as burdens now.

(This is where a number of us employ a form of selective amnesia. We simply . . . forget. Into this blackhole of oblivion is consigned a wholesale number of commitments, the accumulated fulfillment of which would have already ended war, eliminated poverty, addressed hunger, cured cancer, and, most importantly, abolished fat. The most curious and iniquitous thing about this amnesia is that it also happens to be collective: I’ll implicitly forget your promise if you implicitly forget mine . . .

The fragility of our spoken commitments is what has us resort to the impregnability of the written word—a suspect impregnability, at any rate, given how materially flimsy the written word actually is. Be that as it may, there is something reassuringly solid about the recorded promise. Its gravity is what has us sanctify and solemnize sheets of writing penned in styles so arcane it takes the average human being four years more of postgraduate studies capped by a bar exam to even qualify in deciphering them (let alone creating them).

And it’s this very gravity that has me write (and write again) in the very many occasions when there’s nothing left to write about (let alone write for). In the face of fatigue, exhaustion, indifference and oblivion, I write because I said I wouldand it’s declaration I wrote down somewhere.


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