I’ve logged more experience than most with simplicity and the complexity you discover inside simplicity, minimalism and asocial behavior, endurance and landscape.
Here is the truth: I think some deep wisdom inside me (a) sensed the stress, (b) was terrified for me, and (c) gave me something new and hard to focus on in order to prevent me from lapsing into a despair coma — and also to keep me from having a jelly jar of wine in my hand.
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Cary Tennis lives in Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy, and has hardly left the house since March. He is writing a book about a medieval convent mistakenly bombed by Americans in World War II.
You are sitting in the mail room on that armless gray swivel chair with the duct tape on the seat, sorting the mail, and he’s telling you that corporate life . . . well, it’s a life, is what it is, and you can adapt to it and even start to enjoy it if you just adjust your perspective.
When I was nineteen, I thought, If I haven’t published a novel by the time I’m twenty-one, I’ll be all washed up. While studying creative writing in graduate school, I thought, If I haven’t published a novel by the time I’m twenty-five, I’ll be all washed up. At thirty-five I quit drinking and thought, Now I really have to publish a novel, or I’m all washed up.
Trauma is a shock too large to contain. Like a current too strong for the body to dissipate, it burns as it passes through. It disfigures the spirit.
You might very well be lazy, afraid of failure, and undisciplined and still write. You might lack the urge and still write. You might not be “a writer” and still write. . . . You are both obliged to develop your talent and free not to develop it. That is, you are free to acknowledge obligations but still say no to them.
Cary Tennis has been called the “Walt Whitman of advice columnists” by one of his regular readers. His daily column “Since You Asked” has been a hallmark of Salon.com since 2001. Tennis offers frank and sometimes pointed advice, and he reveals his own struggles with refreshing candor. He is part spiritual advisor, part fellow flawed human, part friend who’ll give it to you straight. He can also craft a mean sentence.