Nightwork is a strange thing. It’s the only state of mind your employer can legally require you to be in and at the same time be in an altered state. Reality, in as much as you knew it, has changed, and in its place in an alien world full of strange sights and sounds, and even your home life is different. I work twelve hour shifts. This means I get off, drive forty minutes home, and the clock is ticking. I may get six or seven hours of sleep, then I have to tend to the dogs, making sure each one of them feels loved and special since I’ve been gone. They have to feel loved and they have to feel it from me, each and every day of their lives. There has to be some moment with me they can call their own. I truly believe that most of the problems we have with human beings is because there are children whose parents do not believe this with their kids, and this is sad, and it is tragic.
This is Tuesday. It’s hard for me to feel Tuesday. I was working on Tuesday this morning and I will be working Tuesday tonight, and tonight will turn into Wednesday. When I wake up I have less than four hours before I have to make the forty minute drive to work. If I am smart, I will do the dishes, wash the clothes, clean where I can, and oh yeah, I need to keep writing. The Muse cannot be denied, even in these times. If you cannot make your Muse feel loved and special every day there is something wrong in your life and you need to make a change.
Don’t let things pile up, I tell myself, and even on the first day there are signs this can happen quickly. There are one hundred and nineteen days left in this now, and I have to make sure I stay having good habits in the beginning. Keep cleaning, keep petting, keep writing, and don’t become a mindless zombie who just goes to work and dreads it, I tell myself. I have no idea how long I can keep the lie alive, or keep the truth going, but I know I can today.
There was a moment in time last night, this morning, okay, there was a time between the rising of the moon, and the rising of the sun, when a story began to form. There was a couple who met online, and they decided to meet in a motel, because she worked there and felt safe there, even though employees were not supposed to sleep with guests in the motel. But what has she got to lose except a minimum wage and the manager told her it was okay, because he’s looking out for her interests in this, and her long distance boyfriend has to provide a credit card.
There’s more to this story, but it hasn’t arrived yet. I can feel it in the back of my mind, like a forgotten name or the lyrics of a song, or that actress who played in “Silkwood” back in the 80’s. Cher was in that movie, and oddly, I never forget her name even though it doesn’t come up that much. If you’ve never written fiction you might never believe how it happens, how little is planned, and how much of it seems to come of its own volition, and how little control I have of the process.
You can say you want to be a good parent, or have a happy dog, or be an artist, but what are you doing about it? If work and house stuff and life stuff, if all of these things lead you away from being who you want to be, is it because you are forced, coerced, or simply distracted? How long can a person be distracted before it becomes neglect?
Think about it. Most people tend to their lawns, not because of their bountiful crop of edible grass or because they can sell what they’ve grown. They cannot smoke it and its medicinal value is zero. Yet we live in a culture whose mindset is that everyone who has a lawn must care for it, regardless of how useless this might be, and people are looked down on for a poorly kept yard. But no one ever asks a friend how that poem is coming, or how that thought might change into a story, no. Poets and writers are valued less than some guy who is good with a mower, or some woman who really knows her way around a weed eater.
Ask yourself how you invest your interest in other people’s lives and how that influences how they invest in your own life. Do you ask about their kids’ creativity? Do you ask them if their pets are okay? Have you ever mentioned to someone they tend to lean towards having a poetic streak? Or do you talk about how green their yard looks and how even their mower seems to be cutting? Reruns? Binge watching? What happened last night in the zombie show? What are you helping the people around you become?
The story in my mind forms around my attention on it. Like a fearful dog, I coax it closer to me. I cannot actually see it. I cannot hear it. I cannot do anything but feel it, and feel it ever so slightly, like the first smile from a woman whose name I cannot remember. But by telling you, even if you and I never meet, you exist and so does it. By writing, more writing comes from writing, by loving more love comes from this, and by giving it my time, it becomes more of me.
I have but an hour and a half before I have to be headed back in, yet I have done those things that I must do to keep alive those thoughts I need. The pack is petted and the Muse is fed.
Day One is over and the Day Two begins.