The task before me

Started July 2011

I read a great deal, less now that earlier times, but still regularly, persistently, and eclectically.   I nearly always read the New York Times book review, in spurts, and add some of their reviewed books to my Amazon wish list.  I am not a slave to this or any other list, so the list never seems to decrease as I wander off course and discover a magazine, a book, a subject that is pushed forward by its rhyme or a beckoning from a beyond.

But now I have a task before me, that is to read my own scribblings, piled up on a file cabinet, stuck into folders, loosely folded in a straw square basket that only I know holds the keys to journal entries from the 1980s and 1990s.   Some of the writing is typed, while others are pages torn from their bindings, scratched out in ball point or fountain pen ink, intelligible and random, unintelligible and dark.

Time, the merciful, time the madman, time our destiny demands that I decide to see them go up in flames or be salvaged for an other's eye.

Much of my writing I burned already, letters, whole journals, scattered leaves of parchment, gone but not always forgotten, and not nearly forgiven.  I have a few regrets about how I savaged my memories in a burn barrel in the Berkshire mountains, or at a camp fire, but most often in the floor to ceiling stone fireplace at Sherman.

I'm not certain what is left, or why they still exist.  My limp attempt at novel writing, my own Treblinka rests in a mauve file folder.  All my proprioceptive writings are together laying in wait for an active verb.  And my small short story masterpiece written at the theology group in five drafts is stained with the fingers that both rejected and embraced the pages time and again, always begging me to end its purgatory of indecision. 

I put the task off each day, taking on more mundane duties, or painting and sketching, organising closets, emptying medicine cabinets, and yes burning old invoices and long outdated income tax receipts.

Am I afraid, and if I am what is it I am afraid of that can be revealed by reading my own words?  Or am I just not certain I want to decide now, right now, their destiny when my own destiny is still unwritten.

then I started, 23 December 2011

Then I found my way into the piles, the purple folders, the clipboard plastics, the loose sheets and today, month after writing the above, I am sorting the wheat from the chaff, tossing away diary entries from 24 years ago, and morning pages from 1992.  Gone, very soon they will be ablaze in the burn barrel.  It is just a matter of time, a milder day, stronger footing, or a call to my helpmate to watch the smoke rise out of the metal container.  Soon they will be gone.

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