Here I am, a day late and 300 words short. And why? It’s a new syndrome–scroll allergy. I’m sick of my scroll button. I’ve recently switched to a track ball and thumb scroll and it’s not good, but I stubbornly refuse to give up even though it feels awkward. The regular mouse was taking up too much space on my small desk. My keyboard does not have a touch pad and the keyboard that does have a touch pad is missing its USB connector. So I’m feeling victimized by my own technology. I went to buy a few office supplies yesterday and found myself gawking at a new computer. It was a Wizard of Oz moment–the yellow brick road led me right to the computer of my dreams, big screen, small footprint, shiny, fast, the latest operating system. All of which is out of my budget. And out of my need. I could just buy a new keyboard, or figure out how to keep less junk on my desk and go back to my old mouse with its pretty red mouse pad. Why throw out what I already have?
Well, that’s human (American) nature. I want a new car. My old Camry is worn looking, but you know what? It runs just fine. It’s brown and I wish it were any other color. New is good, right? But I’m not new. Haven’t been for a long time. Most of my poems and prose are not new, either. This same syndrome affected me Thursday when I was choosing poems for a reading. I just did not want to read the old stuff, even though there’s plenty of it and I’m not forced to read the same material over and over to a familiar audience. I cannot quite explain this mood, but recycling, it ain’t. Use up, reuse, recycle–this is the new morality and I believe it. When it comes to material objects, no matter how passe, I have an obligation to make things last.
However, (You knew there would be a pivot here, didn’t you?) as writers our job is to make it new. We create something that never existed out of old parts that have always existed. Language is far older than any new use I make of it. That’s the challenge of creativity–here’s a word hoard, do something fabulous with it. Sigh, sigh, I’m caught in the material world and I need to get out of my own head and take a walk, sit on a rock, as my late friend Michael would say. Watch some bird who wears the same feathers as his kind has worn for a thousand years.