Prose: “James Murphy, Aged 29” / “December 2014 – January 2015”

“So, what are you going to do, kid?
Still ratting at the chains of the gates of the world…
But you can’t quite pretend.”

It’s been eight weeks of not really doing anything; late nights of trying to write but ultimately only to avail of a full trashcan. I was always able to write when I was going to school every day and repeating the same hollow routine, ignoring a weight that was constantly growing. I pretended I was okay, and when people asked if or why I was sad I just made it seem like a joke, like everything was fine. Then I got home and wrote. Writing in those times was always just a way to get a little bit of that weight off my chest. But writing never really changed anything for me; I was always still the same person at the end of every poem, story, script, diary entry, essay, review and article. So, when I stopped being able to write, about eight weeks ago, I still felt the same. The sole difference was the maddening notion that I was no longer doing anything even as remotely productive as my useless writing, as if eight weeks of complete freedom couldn’t change anything. It seems like more than enough time to completely turn a life around. Fifty-six days, or one thousand three hundred and forty four hours. An excessively long time, when all it actually takes is a second.

It’s obvious at this point that change starts with me. Only, it’s completely disheartening when you don’t know where to begin: a million directions for your next step, each one more daunting than the last, only an abysmally low number of them leading to anything good. Odds can be the most frightening thing in the world. You have to remember that the odds will always stay the same unless you make a choice. Then, at least, something becomes a reality; a certainty. Naturally, it only makes sense that you keep moving. I’ve forgotten that. It’s become too easy to merely stay in the same place and forget. I forget the things that I want and the huge unexplored world outside, instead giving in to quick fixes in an unending effort to stave off the anxiety of knowing that I never tried hard enough, and the fear of failing if I do. It’s like standing on the edge of something, ready to make the next leap but constantly second-guessing myself. I’ve been on that edge for literal years. I’ve made promises to myself again and again that I’ll make the leap, move forward, change; I’ve made promises in a million different metaphors and never once kept them.

I’m still here, in the same place I’ve been for so long; still a scared little boy on the cusp of becoming a man (by societal standards, anyway); frozen in one place trying not to cry; trying to look strong, but this was never about strength. It was always about focus; keeping exactly what you want in your sights; never looking down; never getting distracted, even if you get tired.

But you won’t get tired.

2 thoughts on “Prose: “James Murphy, Aged 29” / “December 2014 – January 2015””

  1. I have been writing forever, sometimes for pay and mostly because I have to, am in an MFA program now, and I identify with your post!
    It took me a long time to realize that the dry spells weren’t dry. They were when I was lying fallow. Writers need it as much as fields do.
    My husband is both a priest and a physicist. He introduced me to the concept of “critical mass,” which is the amount of anything that you need to make a difference. For example, you can heat up ice a long time before it melts, but once you reach critical mass, it becomes water. You weren’t wasting your time when you were heating it; you were achieving critical mass.
    So glad you have been able to achieve critical mass and keep writing. As you go through so many changes, a journal will be your friend, both now and when you look back.


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