But yes, what if you could just be calm? You run, you run, you run, all night you run, and after that, yes, I could see why the animal would want a glass of wine, an attempt to flood away the adrenalines. While the beast was caught, prepared to be cooked, then eaten. Calm, the rarest thing in the world, but what if you took it upon yourself to be calm.
My old classmate is talking about his boys, freshmen in college. "It was infatuation. I read your book. It was all about her. She did you a favor, telling you to move on. She was your Vietnam," an old classmate, a lawyer, tells me as the subject I brought up drifts from the tendency to medicate boys for ADHD and the bind young males are in, trying to compete on the one hand, trying to fit in on the other. "That pretty girl from Smith, who wore too much makeup, you should have stuck with her." Yes, I suppose. Okay. Of course. Sure, I can see that. I can see how a person practicing the law for twenty five years would see things that way, the creative parts of the brain constrained by the focus on the actualities.
But that wasn't all the book was about. I don't think. There is some honest grasping for values in it here and there, I should think. "Well, therapy is good... You go talk to someone who's seen a million people with the same problems you have..." my friend says, referring to his divorce. Then we go do dinner at the good Greek place across the street. The server, a friendly young lady from Russia, helps me figure out the wine, a red of an intriguing varietal. When the check comes, my friend the lawyer pays.
But yes, calm. I actually wrote yesterday. I even wrote about Jesus, and personal values. I topped writing off with reading a few good pieces about David Foster Wallace before calling to check in with mom. I didn't really feel up for meeting old college buddies after my part of Restaurant Week and getting up at 2:30 after the difficult shifts of Jazz nights and wine tasting. But not meeting up with them I would regret, so I got in the shower, dressed, wrote out the strange dream I had, topping it off, then on with a coat and boots and down to the avenue.
But if you avoided the stress, and kept calm, and kept writing, what then would happen? You would be real again. You wouldn't get into fake situations. You wouldn't assume the fake persona. You wouldn't need to hide your discomfort by getting into the wine. You wouldn't have to pretend you're a bartender, making a few bucks as your earning potential drains away steadily.
Writing is about values. Of course it is. Your own personal catalog, or attempt to catalog human values, the mini-clashes that arise in the self, that come about through others. One would like to be Jesus, calm....
I could sense that I'd given in to work, the wine after work, and that I wasn't writing. I wasn't writing enough, I wasn't writing forward into explorations of the material I sensed. I'd grown cowardly, I'd grown worried, and the restaurant had become just a story, an excuse not to be moving forward. I wasn't doing the writing that is simply for one's own good.
Time spent the wrong way. Reaching for artificial ways to calm the nerves. Sensuality. Guilty of every sin. I needed to get out of the great lies the bartender can fall into.
The lonesome feeling hits you after a while. You just have to stay calm, knowing that you are doing, as far as your values, the right thing.
And you always have to face truth head on to be writing, to be working, to be making sense of anything. You can't let that rest, and so, you're always writing. You're always at work. And even if you have a glass of wine, well, don't keep writing far from you, because you're an adult now and you have to be working at things.