I set down the pencil and stared at the blank page laying in front of me. For the however many-eth time, I couldn’t think of anything to write about. No – actually, that wasn’t true. I could think of many things to write about, but my thoughts were so disconnected that nothing was fitting together.
It isn’t that writing is like a jigsaw puzzle, where you need to find the right pieces to fit together. It’s more like a trail that you need to find your way down in the dark without a flashlight. Some nights you get a clear sky, a full moon, and a level grade as you’re making your way down the path. Other nights, like tonight, clouds cover the sky, the wind is howling, and you can smell the rain coming. There are two options for getting through the night: hunker down and wait the storm out, or fight your way down what you know is a mountain slope as haphazardly as possible to get home.
I picked the pencil back up and began to examine it. Where had I even gotten this pencil? I haven’t used pencils in years. I’d had to dig around my room to even find a pencil sharpener, which I also somehow had in a box full of junk. At least that’d saved me from using some scissors to sharpen the pencil.
I broke away from thinking about the pencil to try refocusing on…well, maybe refocusing wasn’t the right word. I hadn’t been able to focus on one thought for much time at all tonight. My brain felt fried – working all day, fighting through traffic all the way home, and not being able to run because my feet were too sore from standing all day didn’t leave me with much brainpower to get through the rest of the night.
“Why am I even trying to write?” I muttered to myself as I pushed my chair back from the desk and stood up. I began to pace back and forth at the foot of my bed, which I’d of course left unmade in my haste to leave this morning. I thought about just jumping onto the bed and trying to fall asleep, but I knew that, even as tired as I was, sleep wouldn’t come quickly tonight. My mind was torn in too many directions to be able to shut off quickly.
I began running back through topics as I continued pacing my room, nothing really seeming worthwhile. My antsy-ness starting to get the better of me, I got onto my chair and stood over my room, pushing my hands up against the ceiling. This lasted for less time than it was worth, as my legs began to remind me how tired they also were. I hopped from my chair over to the bed, then back down to the floor, still failing to connect my stream of consciousness. Still contemplating just jumping into bed, I instead sat down with my back against the foot of the bed, stretched my legs under my chair, and stared at my desk. I couldn’t see the paper from here, but I knew it was still up there, just as blank as it had been when I’d sat down an hour ago.
I couldn’t figure out why I felt the need to write something tonight, or why I couldn’t just let it go and do something else. I also still couldn’t figure out why I felt the need to physically write whatever this thing was, glancing over to the computer sitting in the corner of the room for the…was this the thirteenth or fourteenth time? Kicking myself for even trying to keep count, I slid down to my right, laying on my side, and moved from trying to figure out what to write to contemplating life.
As far as a life could go, mine didn’t feel great at the moment, and knowing that it wasn’t the worst life I could be living didn’t really comfort me. I closed my eyes, and for the thirty-seventh day in a row tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. This number wasn’t hard to keep track of – it was the number of days I’d been at this new job, the one with all the standing and all the traffic and all the time I was trying to figure out what happened next. I didn’t really see myself in this job for too long, but at a certain point I needed to eat.
I pushed myself up from the floor and towards the chair. Eyes still closed, I tried just feeling for it, and a hand smashed against the side of a chair leg informed me that it was closer than I’d thought. Opening my eyes and standing up, I nursed my fresh wound, kicking myself for not just getting into the chair like a normal person in the first place. Sitting back in the chair and pulling myself back up to the desk, I resolved to myself to at least just doodle or something. Maybe seeing something on the paper would push me toward some coherent thought; at the very least, maybe a full page of doodles would leave me feeling some sort of accomplishment from my night’s attempt at doing something other than watching videos.
Even the doodles, though, left much to be desired. I didn’t know what I wanted to draw, and just ended up with a bunch of squiggly lines. “Fantastic,” I thought to myself, “this is incredibly helpful.” I set the pencil back down, crumpled the paper into a ball, and tossed it over my shoulder, hoping I’d missed the bed and gotten even remotely close to the trash can. I put my forehead down to the desk and closed my eyes again. For having spent a long time not actually doing much today, my muddled brain made it seem like I hadn’t slept for two days. I resolved to try doing something again tomorrow night, whatever that might mean. I pushed back away from the desk and, getting up from the chair, started the process of getting ready for bed.