I am easing off social media. At least some forms of it. And wondering how to use the rest of it. I’ve been asking myself when I’ve been happiest – or at least most content – with my writing. I think that also means most confident. Proud. When it was easy with no competitive tug, no desire to one-up, no resentment over snubs up and down the hierarchy. Actually, when I was blissfully unaware of hierarchies.
Most of the time I don’t think about it. But the “community” is like a vortex. And the advice (largely American) is that to create a network you have to “give to the community”. And often that falls onto my dinner-party plate looking a lot like quid-quo-pro and obligation. And I don’t have the energy to play. This isn’t when I am happiest, most confident. What begins as authentic seems to edge into artifice.
I am too awkward a creature for this dance.
I am beginning to think there is contentment in the doing. And that it is only found the doing. Everything else is a kind of high. A spike. A moment. And for me, each of those highs is followed by a fall.
So I am up at 4.15, trying to write myself into a steady hum.
But pride? Is there such a thing as pride discrete from admiration? Such a thing as identity discrete from a market economy definition? People “indulge” in hobbies. Self-indulging. I looked up the definition of indulging and it is to allow oneself to enjoy… So why the negative connotation?
So this is me, stumbling over the obvious again: the remnants of America’s Puritan work ethic. The required justification for “Who do you think you are?”
Not even a tall poppy. This is the voice inside my own head.
In my process journal, I’ve been writing about wasps. There are thousands of species and some are solitary, some live in hives. In most hives, the queen controls who may lay eggs with her pheromones. But in some hives, female workers also lay eggs – unregulated by the queen. However, in these hives, the workers destroy one another’s eggs before they hatch. In service to the Queen.
I’ve been writing about what it is to have a life in service. About learned self-erasure. Asking myself if this isn’t how the concept of martyrdom developed in the first place. To appease our instinct to compete in the hierarchy, while simultaneously demanding self-erasure. All for the greater good.
Win for losing. As they say. But don’t enjoy that either. Humble martyr. Get there by not aiming. Don’t even have that thought in your head. That’s also punishable by death.
I’ve been writing about potter wasps. They live and work alone on the heaths. Shaping vessels from mud. Filling them with life. That’s not to say that it’s pretty. But, I admire the work, the life, the focus, the art of it.
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Social media is doing all sorts of weird things to us – like I have started thinking in social media snippets rather than in coherent narrative. Maybe that’s why I’ve started my daily blogging where I need to be coherent for between 750-1k words or where I need to write a coherent poem. That’s my giving to the community (that and mentoring people who come within my orbit and ask my advice). Giving to the community does NOT mean giving books away for free, nor does it mean liking someone else’s posts even if they’re full of shit (sorry, I’m calling a spade a spade here). There was a poetry site in my early days on the internet called Poetry Thursday or something like that, and all it actually was was people liking each other’s stuff so that other people liked their stuff so that more other people liked their stuff and they liked theirs. It was tiresome, to say the least, and, as you say, total artifice. Let’s ply our solitary orbits and not give a shit about likes and the like.
And, as far as the potter wasps are concerned, let’s remember that art is under no obligation to be beautiful. Most great art is ugly because it’s real.
Why I love you
I love this post. I feel this post. Particularly the paradoxes. And the wasps.
I almost didn’t post this for fear of people thinking I was disparaging the “community” … and I am so into the wasps right now.