The real fear is that I won’t do anything. I guess I’ve already said that, but it’s hitting me again this morning. I feel tired and discouraged, for no real reason, although I blame the continuing winter cold, the onset of my period, and the knowledge that in two days we’ll be heading to Florida for a week. I know—it’s scummy of me to feel discouraged about going to Florida. It’s Florida! But it’s a change to the routine and schedule in which I’m just now starting to gain momentum.
Some quotes from my morning perusal through the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2: “Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself—without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.” And from the middle of the next verse: “Those who are motivated only by desire for the fruits of action are miserable, for they are constantly anxious about the results of what they do. When consciousness is unified, however, all vain anxiety is left behind. There is no cause for worry, whether things go well or ill.”
Am I motivated by the fruits of my commitments? A difficult pose held in perfect alignment, an articulate and artistic blog post, a song sung powerfully with great feeling? Well, yes. Those things motivate me. I can see that they tinge, sometimes saturate, the action with anxiety. They are inspired in part by vanity, a desire for admiration.
But beyond outcomes, the anxiety I felt this morning was that I would not write—or that if I would write, it would be exactly this bloggy-style stuff I’m doing now. I suppose my being here, at my desk, should feel like an accomplishment, but it feels more like avoidance. I’m using words—easy words—as a way to fill space so the poetry doesn’t have a chance to rise up. Notice the wildly vain assumption that I’m full of latent poetry?
Even my posture in my desk chair is one of readiness for flight: legs turned to one side, butt on the edge of the seat. Writing is scary. I’m scared I won’t do it, and I’m scared of what will happen (or not happen) if I do.
My fear is that if I’m right about having primordial poems swimming in my gut, my current slap-dash commitment to writing will not bring them to light. My fear is that poetry takes a level of commitment beyond me, a commitment much more flexible even as it’s deadly serious. Poetry takes a willingness to hate yourself, to stay relaxed through that wretched, sulfurous slag that has to surface before you can find the good stuff. My fear is that there is no good stuff because I’ve been feeding myself primarily genre fiction. My fear is that I’m just not smart enough.
(Anyhow, there’s a neat little illustration for you of what the BG means when it says those who care about the fruits of their action are miserable. So, how to write poetry without worry?