Not in Utopia, –subterranean fields,–
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us, — the place where, in the end,
We find our happiness, or not at all!
(Napoleon Bonaparte, 1791 – “Residence in France,” The Prelude, book 11. Found in Darrin McMahon’s Happiness: A History.)
I had been thinking about the title of this blog for a while now, and had considered “In this World”, weeks before I read the above quote from Napoleon’s essay, the essay that was ridiculed by the gatekeepers, and that possibly marked the end of his ambitions as a writer.
I’ve been thinking about blogging, or not blogging. About false starts, abandoned ideas, and ambitious reinventions. Thinking about the trope of the Great Adventure: the privilege of taking off into the wilderness to find oneself.
About what we give up, what we give.
What we take.
About narcissism, hubris, delusion.
About writing. Always about writing.
Recently, I read Alan Watts The Wisdom of Insecurity because a former student whom I admire a great deal recommended it to me. About a third of the way through, I couldn’t push from my mind the thought that I had already asked all these questions by the age of 12. About halfway through, I began to ask myself why I had stopped asking all these questions.
Part of the answer lies in the fact that I read a lot as a kid, as a teenager, and as a young adult. And, obviously, people smarter than me were asking the questions already. In fact, every idea I ever had: someone had already been there – done that.
I’ve been waiting for pre-approval for my right to speak. Waiting for the gatekeepers to invite me in. But even when they did, and they have on occasion, I’ve felt like a fraud: exposed and vulnerable.
So this is me being brave. This is me, not walking the Camino, not spending a year at an ashram, but me living the life I have chosen, with all its routines, obligations, and joys.
This is me, moving on, finding inspiration in Sondheim:
– “I’ve nothing to say, nothing that hasn’t been said before.”
– “Not by you, George.” [from Sunday in the Park with George.]