Sunday, June 30, 2002

A writer is supposed to be able to step outside of himself and write with complete objectivity. Or, he is supposed to be able to focus his creative powers on an object completely separate from himself. Sounds easy, but in an odd sort of way it seems even more egocentric than writing about oneself. Why would a person presume to think that another person would want to read something written about something that has no connection to either the reader or the writer? Yes, I know that the writer develops a connection to his subject simply by writing about it. Well, hell, let's just give it a shot.

Last week I was in Big Sur, and I've been dying to write something ever since, though for some reason I've had a hard time forcing myself to do it. One of my favorite poets lived most of his life in Carmel, at the northern end of Big Sur (Big Sur is a mountainous stretch of the central California coast, about 60 miles in length). Most of his poetry is infused with images of the Big Sur countryside, both its natural features and its human inhabitants. Though the bulk of this poetry was written more than 50 years ago, this area hasn't changed all that much, so making my annual trek to this incredibly beautiful part of the state has become somewhat of a pilgrimage for me (unbeknownst to my family, who makes the trek with me). This poet was so remarkably adept at transplanting a place onto the page, that it's hard to separate the poetry from the landscape in my mind. That is unless I think of the place as it existed prior to the last century, which is exactly what Jeffers would like us to do.

I don't know if this is the usual effect of a vacation on me (it had been so long since I had one), but ever since we returned home I've been even more wrapped up in my own problems than usual. Going to Big Sur had the desired effect of reminding me of my own insignificance and reinstilling my wonder and awe at the universe, but I think this may have backfired somehow. It also seems to have fertilized the seed of my discontent with the way my life has been going lately. We have so precious little time on this planet, and there is so little time in the day. Why waste it sitting at a damn desk all day engaging in meaningless tasks?

Hmmm, I said I was going to focus outside of myself in this post, didn't I? Ah well, next time I'll try a little harder. How was my trip? Awe inspiring, humbling, invigorating ... and exhausting. Not sure what that's all about.

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