My life has had way too many ideas,
They have come and gone like…. well, “like women.”
Ok maybe not like women.
In fact, women in my life have made a habit of neither arriving when needed, nor departing quickly enough.
Ideas, though, flow like water. At last count I had 78 of them since last night.
Most of them are bad enough to be fleeting, some fleet much too soon, and almost all of them if given enough air will simply evaporate.
The few that survive either are acted upon or sit and fester for years.
Not that new ideas need much nurturance to bear fruit.
Usually a lifetime of hard work will do it.
I am astounded at how many ideas have already been taken. I am reminded of the phrase “nothing new under the sun.”
Is that statement as true now as it once was?
Has the phrase been around for a long time?
What did people say when there WERE new things under the sun?
Was there a cut off date when an idea could qualify as new?
I once had an idea for a book that started out:
” Call me Ishmael. Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.”
I made the mistake of showing a rough draft to a friend.
He informed me that Herman Melville had already done it.
Once again I was forced to abandon what I had thought was a promising start. Sad as such an occurrence is, there is usually another idea around the corner.
I can count on it.
Good ideas are pesky enough but bad ideas are much, much worse. Not only do I spend my days getting rid of them but everyone I know has at least one. For some reason all of these aquaintances think I should hear their bad ideas and act on them.
Ideas tend to band together and gang up on people.
Several times Einstein was mugged by the ideas of another professor. I understand he was forced to hire a security guard.
Perhaps ideas have a mind of their own.
They certainly seem to.
Either that or the universe has a lottery system for ideas, which operates very much like a TV game show.
The following is a recent example:
I had several ideas for my book, which I’ve been writing for 55 years or so. I was writing away and suddenly everything came to a halt. I just couldn't write. Though I should have known better I complained to my wife.
“It can happen to anyone,“ my wife said. “There is a book and a workbook that deals with all facets of “writer’s block.” And there is a group on FACEBOOK. They also meet locally once a week and discusses how they can no longer write. I think it is very therapeutic.”
“I’ve been down this road before,” I thought.
But soon it was clear that I had indeed reached a definite impasse.
I had been on page 37 of my latest writing attempt and I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense that there really was nothing left to say.
I felt as if I was at the end of my rope.
Words had become totally meaningless and the act of stringing them together into coherent piles became exhausting.
Not only was there nothing left to say, but it seemed as if all 55 years of my attempts to live an examined life were a wasted effort.
Something similar had happened to me in the early 70’s.
Perhaps it was a result of doing too many drugs back then,
Words began to blur and I started to hear an echo.
A silence I did not know existed suddenly enveloped me, and I could not for the life of me write another word.
"Maybe this was some sort of flashback or something," I thought.
Because of this sudden onslaught and the intensity of the struggle, I decided to do as my wife suggested and I went to the group.
It meets on Wednesday evenings at a quiet little cafe just off Central.
It was a small group, maybe 6 or 7 people.
We all sat in a circle.
A balding man stood up.
“Hi … I’m Jody, ” he said.
“ Hi Jody.” The group said.
He looked to be about my age and he carried himself as if he might be the leader of the group. But I wasn’t certain.
“I’m a writer,” he said, “I recently reached an impasse."
"I was on page 37 of my latest attempt at writing and I was suddenly overwhelmed with a sense that there was nothing left to say. I felt as if I was at the end of my rope.”
I sat straight up in my chair.
Jody went on, “ Words had become totally meaningless and the act of stringing them together into coherent piles became exhausting. Not only was there nothing left to say but all of my attempts to live an examined life seemed to have been a wasted effort.”
“ Something similar occurred to me in the early 70’s. Perhaps I did too many drugs. Words began to blur and then I started to hear an echo. Then a strange silence enveloped me, and I could not write another word.”
Jody stopped. No one said a word. Everyone looked intently at Jody and moved their heads slightly up and down.
“I’ve written a book about the experience. It’s called 'Page 37' and it’s available on Amazon," he concluded.
“Damn," I thought, "Jody has beat me to it."
This is the first thing I have written in 5 weeks since all this happened. I ordered Jody’s book and I was able to buy a used copy. Scribbled on page 37 was a barely decipherable notation:
”Been there, done that.”