“The Pen”

The pen will not always write. This is not a function of writer’s block, but more simply because the pen has no ink. Actually, its ink is just irregular. Some words it writes fine; other words only the outlines of letters appear, though you press the pen into the paper as hard as you can. The absurdity of the situation drives you to madness. Before long you will rip the pen in half and then in pieces. You try and write the word ‘half,’ but only half of it comes in, the ‘h’ and the ‘l.’ You fill in ‘hell’ instead. You are half in hell, and the cause of it is a half-busted pen that lets you express half a life. You are unable to live your life without expressing it, that you know. But now that your one pen is failing you, you realize that even when the pen was working, you were still living half a life. The expression of life had taken over for the living of it, the words for the reality. To give such significance to words! That is the madness. The pen that breaks only brings you to the realization of your brokenness. It is the pain that comes when you realize that you have not been living life, only constructing a façade of life in your fatuous dreams. And now with the failed pen. You scour the room looking for another one, one more resilient, better able to handle the pressure you put on it, the pressure it puts on you. The pressure you put on yourself to use it to express yourself, that self you are always so far from finding, from knowing, from being. So far you have been able to express the self you are not yet, the yearning to be that self. But how long can you continue to express a yearning? How long, and to what end, will you express what you are not? As for the pen, it is nearing its end, so why can you not accept its ending? You cannot direct it to do your will, to transmute your confusion into something like clarity. The pen continues to record half of what you intend to write. You have to struggle to discern your own words, which themselves struggle to come out of you, struggle against you, help you sometimes to give up the struggle, the rest of the time only make it worse. The more words you write the more you exist in the trench that separates how you live from how you express the life you do not live, the half-lived travesty you wish you could call your life. But this life is no more yours than this pen is yours to command. Even this pen seems to have a life of its own, and you find yourself envying its freedom, even if it is a freedom to be nothing, to make itself invisible, to rebel against the commands of one who is no longer its master. You envy the pen that will not deign to write of your envying. You condemn its useless freedom, which records only half of your useless words, the words that are only outlines of letters, as you seem to be the outline of a man. The only true man is the outlier, who is not an outline, but an in-depth individual who encircles the false and picks out the truth at the center. But to return again to the pen. It seems to have gotten past its rebellious phase and now records faithfully your every word, whether adequate to the task or wholly inadequate. It is not for you to decide for now which words work and which do not. You let the pen move as it will across the page, using what words seem to come to it. Then you go back, with the same pen, changing some words and phrases, keeping others as they are. Many of the words are hugely inadequate to the task, which itself is huge, towers above the words. The task is to express, with the pen, Life itself, which cannot be expressed but must be lived. And so the task is impossible, and yet goes on.

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