Blank

It’s not exactly that I’m uninspired. More like drawing blanks. Like the dream I had last night, where I was interviewing for a job that would pay the same for half as many hours of work. The catch was that I would be required to draw, in this case cute little illustrations having to do with Jewish identity. I had the latter part down but there was simply no way I could fake it in terms of artistic ability. So I drew a stick figure. I drew a blank.

Blank. As in sitting in front of the big window in my work office and seeing white and grey and bare and a plane that must have been coming from the small airfield in Northampton. Blank. As in wondering what it feels like to be lit up with creative projects rushing with purpose. Blank. As in not thrilled, not patient, and not urgent, either. Just, just. This. Just blank.

My mind reflexively wants to move in one of two directions—back, to other times in my life easily mistaken from here as more of something, less of something else. And forward, to the inevitability of change, change that smell like spring and take care of my question—what will happen next?—all by itself.

For a long time, I secretly wished for something big to happen. Something surprising and dramatic. I waited. I wondered. I watched. I wrestled. I wrote. I whispered about it to unseen angels while I was walking with babies or running uphills that would leave me winded at the moment, never failing to specify that this unexpected event should be for the good, superstitious as I was, still am, about being too vague with my utterances.

Now I’m tracing the ripples of what did come, nothing I could have conceived of, of course. And it’s interesting, how when life calms down, there is still that impulse, to shake it upside down like a bag full of sand and loose change, to seek out some empty room where I can line the walls with poems and photographs and pair them, slowly, deliberately, silently listening for instructions. Pulling up a chair and offering myself a seat on it. Blank. But not as in depression, either, though it has a voided quality I could worry about were I to forget that everything happens when nothing seems to be happening.

Once, I was a young woman. I thought I knew myself, because I did. And this was also a kind of hubris, because I didn’t, though I could feel the knowing in a certain stance, a flying dream, a house that kept appearing with new rooms, whole wings I hadn’t known about before. I felt it, too, in the loving and also in what I see now was a kind of subtle manipulation, moving and pushing life towards what I wanted it to be, exploding inward, growing both wilder and more contained around branches of accommodation and denial, always trying to untwist myself, write my way into being present, restless, restless, bursting, suppressed.

It’s different now. The blank is an imagination dulled by a lack of imagination. It’s too many details and too little discipline. It’s the thrill of recognizing how beautifully my girls are growing up. It’s the comfort of falling asleep with Mani’s breath against my back. It’s acknowledging my hunger to DO BIG THINGS. To create and to collaborate. It’s accepting, without fear, that there are stretches like this, and that these are just part of life, that ineffable road, the illusion of time. I am held in here, blank, babies on one side and the unknowable on the other.

For weeks, something Maezen posted has kept coming back to me: Everything is unknowable. Nothing is hidden. When I first read it, I went a little bit crazy, because I was trying to understand. Tonight, though, it makes perfect sense, as the clouds turn from pink to blue to a dark grey that dissolves into a night sky.

Blank. And filled, always, with stars.

4 thoughts on “Blank

  1. Jena Strong says:

    Defenceless under the night
    Our world in stupor lies;
    Yet, dotted everywhere,
    Ironic points of light
    Flash out wherever the Just
    Exchange their messages:
    May I, composed like them
    Of Eros and of dust,
    Beleaguered by the same
    Negation and despair,
    Show an affirming flame.

    Like

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