"You're blocking your energies," a Czech woman once told me, observing me during the tail end of a shift one night. "You have so much energy... you could build a schoolhouse all by yourself..." Of course, I looked at her, wondering what she meant, absorbing it, looking for the wisdom. Which may have been plainly obvious, out in the open, there before me, but I didn't quite see it. It implied something. What should I do? What was I doing, what should I be doing? Her grandmother was a witch, and there was something trustworthy to my visitor, a large person.
I could answer that question with a tepid statement that I was writing, but I wasn't sure of that, by any means. It is a hard thing to define, an array of activities, but no clear way of fitting in, or maybe inherently fitting in. What was the purpose of writing, if you could be building a house with your own two hands, or did she say barn, or was there implication of a school?
In truth the built up wave of the water of work would sweep through me, through my lines and defenses and take me along with it, the hot energy of people intent on relaxing blowing through my night, leaving me hungry and wiped out. There should have been a slow easy shift that ended early now and again, but they never happened. It would take time to come down, to calm down, from the whole complex of things, and the pattern meant getting up late, and really not writing much, except on days off, a nocturnal shift existence. How to come to the daylight? I had no clear idea. The job kept me in such a state, I found it impossible even to try anything else.
I'd write whenever I could, mainly as a way of thinking, to clarify all the elements going on in my mind, even holding opposite and contradictory thoughts. But it seemed an uneasy existence, with something never resolved, as much as we must live in the present. Years went by, and there I was, still bobbing in the wind, it seemed, grateful for a roof over my head, the future unclear. Indeed, what was I doing wrong? And from where does that magic thing, the money for earning a steady place in this world come anyway?
The day off would come upon me. I'd do the dishes, the laundry, sit down here and there to write, but feeling distracted, feeling as if I were caught in some perpetual form of sin that the modern world only encouraged with all its distractions, all the small ways in when you're trying to protect your psyche and your deeper understandings of yourself, the invitation. And I'd rue the fact that tending bar left me vulnerable, in the way an Amish farmer simply isn't, from worldly influences.
If thy right eye offends thee... Was that where I was headed? Was it too late?