# of pages written: 5
# of days left to write 1st draft: 137
The other night I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine who tends to get overwhelmed with life’s deep, existential questions and often feels like he’s drowning in a sea of his own thoughts.
“You need to be like a whale,” I told him. “Dive down deep, but then come up for air once and awhile. Splash around in the shallow water and breathe.”
“Yeah, maybe,” he said.
“It can get pretty dark and cold down there in the black depths of the soul. All that water is pretty heavy, and you might start to feel like the weight of the world is keeping you down.”
I can be pretty heavy-handed with my metaphors sometimes.
Yesterday evening I went for a walk on the beach, trying to look for meaning in the blue water, in the one lonesome seal, in the tracks of bird prints in the sand. I want to write something meaningful, I thought, but how can I if I don’t know the meaning of anything myself? I walked past families cooking out, children digging with plastic shovels, teenagers throwing Frisbees. Was it possible that they were all just enjoying the warm wind and the waning sun, not worrying about the meaning of life, only enjoying it?
Today I went back to that novel I started writing when I first got here. I abandoned it eighty pages in because I thought it was shallow and trivial. I thought I didn’t know the characters well enough. I thought I didn’t know what the point of it was.
But as I read it over, I realized, hey, it’s pretty interesting. And as I write more, I’ll get to know the characters better. I’ll figure out what the point is eventually. Will it be all that meaningful? I don’t know. Probably not. But don’t we sometimes read for entertainment? My god, I know I do. In fact, I’d say for every one deep, “meaningful” book I read, I read five books just for fun.
I thought about the whale again, coming up for air. They live a life that spans both the depths and the shallows. We can’t always stay in a deep, existential crisis. We need to come to the surface to splash and play and have fun. Maybe what I write will just be for entertainment, and that’s OK. Sometimes, it’s OK to be shallow. It’s how we breathe. It’s how we prepare for the next dive under.