There’s always more to people than meets the eye.
Take me for instance.
I can be critical and evaluative as will be immediately apparent from my other posts on this site. Certainly, as one who seeks to cultivate that cool beloved of writers, I like to come across in my prose as ironic, objective and knowing. The result of this affectation is that it is sometimes difficult for me to reveal other (perhaps more genuine) aspects of my personality. This difficulty is nothing cognitive or philosophical – it’s emotional. The truth be told, it’s foolish embarrassment. In a writer’s world where only knowing irony is respected highly (or so I believe), I’m sometimes a little ashamed to be my other self.
There is a part of me – I hope the bigger part – which isn’t really the literary hipster. I recognise the source of my need to come across all literati, it partly stems from my great admiration of great writers such as Graham Greene and Jenny Diski. Thankfully, I also recognise that this isn’t in fact the entire me. My occluded traits are, in actuality, more hippy than hipster. Indeed, my first literary love is poetry and there remains within the person who still is inspired by dawn, by love and romance, and by beautiful summer days. I still feel much poetic joy when contemplating the memory of clear May skies over the East Sussex coastline or the Chiltern Hills in the summertime.
Not ironic and knowing, but me nonetheless.
I hope to retain this innocence for as long as possible. My middle age has arrived and the glow of inspiration hasn’t quite faded into Wordsworth’s light of common day just yet. Even better, I am lucky enough to still be enjoying incredible discovery moments; that is, when new things inspire me. I can recall many such instances when I moved from a position of thinking that I didn’t like this or that, to having the object or artform reveal its brilliance. That moment is like entry into a entire new world of beauty.
Examples of these discovery moments include the occasion where I discovered the harmonic brilliance of jazz (listening to the saxophone solo on Jenine by Eddie Jefferson, incidently), and specific moment when I understood the point of operatic singing (listening to Greig’s Solveig’s Song one summer morning at 4am); or one day in Leeds when I looked into the eyes of a tramp (US English: bum) whom I would normally have recoiled from, and realised that this was someone I could share my cigarettes with and have a laugh or two.
And there’s another, recent one. It’s really close to where I am typing and where you are reading. In fact it’s this here WordPress.com
I created this blog at the start of 2015 thinking that it would be a useful medium through which to get my thoughts, ideas and essays out into the world (not an entirely successful endeavour, looking at the stats). However, following last week’s first foray into the Community Pool, I learned that the most enjoyable aspect of blogging isn’t having others read your work necessarily. It’s the sharing. It’s the reading of other brilliant work that exists here, and exchanging feedback with fellow writers.
There’s a collective wisdom here which I am finding myself extremely happy to be a part of. It’s something that we’re all creating together. This aspect is reinforcing a message that I once knew well, but am always having to re-learn – that is, it’s not about me, the “I”; it’s about us, the “we”. One of Michaelangelo’s favourite sayings was apparently ancora imparo (“still I am learning”). Long may that continue to be the case.