Writers write. That damned muffin, trotted out (you hope) for a purpose, some instruction, a demonstration, and – yes – this will help. Writers write. But what if I don’t want to? Did you hear the whining (or whingeing if you’re one of those) in the phrase? White was writer who did impressions and I bring him up only because he wrote the book about writing. (In ‘Charlotte’s Web’ we could, with our inner ear, hear John Arable’s drawl as he discussed with the missus what to do with that pig. I, for one, would have instead been stupified at the spider who could spell.) He could put the hint of an accent in your ear and never apostrophize, or contract, or even italicize for emphasis. The right word. In the right order. That’s style. He wrote the book.
In the meantime… I don’t want to. Writing involves thinking. This is about how I think and feel about TREE, but sometimes… I don’t want to think about TREE at all. Thinking about TREE can make my breath catch, a quick and fearful gasp, the one that accompanies the realization of being overwhelmed, of wondering bedazzledly how you got this far. (I have to feel that feeling to write that feeling, which is the why behind why this writer writes.) Today, I’m going to sublimate the fear, distract us (you and me both) from the eventual, and rollick in the meanwhile.
Last night was incredible. Mark Matthews organized a fundraiser for TREE and it was a triumph. The people who donated their time, energy, willful effort, all came together with enthusiasm and love to support our little film, bringing their friends and family out for the night.
The friendly interrogations began shortly after the first introduction and they didn’t stop until the end of the night: “You’re Neil,” they’d say, sometimes covering their mouths, leaning back after to silently assess me. “I love what you’re doing.” That’s the quote. Word for word. I have it memorized because I heard it so many times last night. And then, although phrased quite differently, they asked me the same questions:
“Why are you doing this?”
“What do you think you’ll get from this?”
“What do you believe?”
“What did you believe when you were young?”
“Do you believe in God?”
“Does the forty-nine days have any significance?”
I think it was Jessica who cried and I’m pretty sure it was Joe who came over to shake my hand at the end of the night, just to tell me how brave and cool he thought I was. Wow.
Why am I doing this? That’s simple and complex. I’m human and that means I’m complicated. I have guilt and shame issues, regrets, the usual suspects, but we all have those. I’d like TREE to help me out there, a little, sure,, get rid of some vanity, some self-consciousness, but it’s the paradigm of believing in something that I’m really looking for. I’ve been studying creation, wrapping my head around the spans of time wherein stars are born and die and are born anew from the ash and fumes of novae, trying to understand how and why sentience might be winking in and out of existence across space-time. And it’s all Frankl’s search for meaning and it’s all the dark night of the soul, and (for me) it’s TREE. This is my way to confront, as directly as possible, an apparent meaninglessness.
Why? Why forty-nine days? Jesus did forty days. Mohammed did forty-eight. I think I chose forty-nine because it’s one more than mohammed and, despite never having stepped in a synogogue, I self-identify with Judaism and it’s kind of a way to bring the trophy back home. Take that, Mohammed. I kid. A little.
Forty-nine days is, according to the Tibetans, the period between death and rebirth. As metaphors go, I think that one is perfect for TREE.