Saturday, July 5, 2008

When in Doubt, turn to Poetry

Something has happened. Well, several things actually – I’ve just returned from what was supposed to be a relaxing two-week vacation (it wasn’t) in the UK, my film has finally been released after 3 years in the making (a middling success, I’m told by kind people) and I’m still financially stable (another first) despite having dug deep into my bank balance to fund my trip. And yet, amidst all these big moments, something fundamental has shifted in my life. And this time, I don’t think it’s got much to do with a man.

This time, I think it’s just me.

Just before I left, I was working on a project, my output on which left me convinced that I was a non-starter, creatively speaking. While usually, it’s just a periodic “I’m such crap, why do I bother anyway?” litany going on in my head, this time, I think I’d found a reason for the same – I have no memory for details, and memory is the one essential ingredient for a writer. It was no wonder then that I had nothing to put down on a page which didn’t boil down to worn, oft-repeated clich├ęs.

Contrary to what appears on paper, there is all around me a plethora of drama and humour always in evidence, unique in its own way. For instance, the undercurrents of a family of eight as they manoeuvre the explosive mines of 30 years of familial baggage while on an international vacation, the ineffectual tussle between two grown men as they stagger out of a pub, the cloying groping of a couple as they block my view of a concert. Even the details of simple things like describing the undulating landscape of the Highlands, the excitement of lying on the grass in Hyde Park, soaking in the Sun, the amazing concert where John Mayer, Sheryl Crow and Eric Clapton performed on stage together for a brief few minutes are blurry for me.

What I have come away with is that I love that city, and that it’s the only other city I know that has felt like home. I’ll be hard-pressed to describe the details of the walk through Notting Hill, the beautiful sculptures that seem scattered around the city or what the paid actors said to make “eerie London” come alive for me. But I can evoke the warmth of the sunshine as I sat in Trafalgar Square, stretching out a sore back, and the fear of spending my first five pounds on some trifle, as I quickly did the pound-rupee conversion. And I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of my experiences.

Nor am I inclined to… which is where the problem is, I think.

That city is a monument to achievement – literary, scientific, political and cultural. And amidst that whole barrage of stimuli and the accompanying discussion about their minutiae, I think I’ve realised that perhaps I won’t make it, that I don’t have it in me after all.

PS: I’d visited Lake District, home to William Wordsworth, where I'd picked up an anthology of his works. Sitting here, as I was listlessly going through it, wondering if I should delete this entire piece, something he wrote caught my eye.

He wrote, “Enough of science and of art, close up these barren leaves, come forth and bring with you a heart, that watches and receives.” This was a low self-esteem, self-pitying, pointless post, until Wordsworth saved it for me. There has to be a lesson in there somewhere, right?


Anonymous said...

i still don't understand why going to london made you feel worthless.

you are who you are, and you are different and unique.

never compare yourself to people.

just btw i hated the UK. i think it is overrated.

Searcher said...

Thank you Anonymous, it wasn't that London made me feel 'worthless', but the fact that i was already spiralling downward, and London provided me with a benchmark that, in the downward spiral, seemed to cement the opinion. The good news - one of the same luminaries of the country is the one who pulled me out of that slump through his writing :-)

Anonymous said...

..."And this time>, I don’t think it’s got much to do with a man"

hehe :) you are funny searcher !