What is the now?

All we ever have is now.

That's a lyric from a Flaming Lips song. I don't need at this point to explain it, because those six words can stand alone. For me, I hear them and my synapses fire up to the point where I am flooded with memories of loves that went wrong and the truth that kept me alive when I realized that is the only sane way to live a life.

But what does a person do when they can look back at all the words they have written over the course of an adult life-time? Tonight I'm sifting through journals from 1998 to see who I was then. I am finding that I am the same person. I recognize, and I remember, all the words typed long ago on keyboards past. I was lonely, I was uncertain about what was to happen, I was convinced that I had to keep going no matter what.

My best friend growing up is an art critic. I make the mistake sometimes of sharing with him bits of music that I've created in the hopes of getting his feedback. Those bits of music are things I recorded at previous nows. I have no ability to write a song, to sit and craft one. I can sit and craft a news story and I can do a good job of parenting my children. But, my chemical make-up prevents me from writing a song like everyone else.

I'm also not capable of writing a fictional short story. I am much more interested in using the power of words, and  my version of music, to record what is happening in this moment.

I just transferred all of my computer-written journals from 1995 to 2008 to my computer. The first ones were written on the only Mac I've ever owned, a Centris 650 that I bought after the Tech Independent folded in 1994. I wrote and wrote and wrote on that thing, capturing the transition from college to the real world.

I began writing seriously on computers in 1991, when I got a Commodore Amiga in order to be part of the computer science program at Virginia Tech. I wasn't so interested in the programming. I was instead much more interested in the social applications. I ran a BBS in high school and thought computer science was the way to do something like that professionally.

But, I was terrible at that. Terrible. I was much more interested in people and stories and how civilization works. Somehow I fell in with the Preston Journal, a weekly newspaper at Virginia Tech. For the first time in my life, I was writing and the words were appearing in print. I got hooked, and spent the next two years learning to write.

I don't give my mind a chance to really let that now breathe. But, if not for that moment, I would not be where I am right now. I was in Cassell Coliseum for an activity fair my girlfriend wanted to go to and I went along reluctantly.

Four months later, I was opinions editor.

Almost twenty years later, I'm still a journalist.

This is the now that I am in. As I type these words, I am alive and happening.

No comments: