The Sorting of Stuff
“Every book is a quotation; and every house is a quotation out of all forests, and mines, and stone quarries; and every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’re all built on the stuff of those who came before us. We inherit the good and the bad stuff, and become who we are based on how we sort it out. Some sort it out quickly, some never quite get there. We’re all a work in progress.
Whenever I feel a little tapped out on the writing, I fill the bucket back up by reading more, or getting outside. It’s no secret, really, every creative person says this. They say it because it’s true. I don’t believe in writers block, I believe in closed-mindedness, distraction, laziness and apathy. Those are the Four Horsemen I struggle with, and the best way to shake free of their grip is to move the body and move the mind. I have curiosity, patience, persistence, and empathy in my favor, if I just feed them.
Reading and then quoting Emerson sparks the imagination, which in turn primes the writing pump. The writing in turn is a sorter of stuff, stuff like the quotations that I picked up from my ancestors, stuff like an antagonist when I was 13 who had some twisted quotations in his own life manifested in targeting fellow students, stuff like the picked up pieces from reading and encounters with people over decade after decade on this planet.
There are other stuff sorters. I’ve sorted a whole lot of stuff walking. Steps stacked on top of each other sort stuff as well as anything I know of. Maybe you meditate, or go to therapy, or talk to a close friend about your own darkest stuff, and that’s good. Everyone should sort their stuff in their own way. Mine is walking and writing. That’s my quotation from my ancestors I suppose, all gift wrapped in a baby blanket. God knows it could’ve been a lot worse.
Here’s the scary part: I’m passing my own quotations on to the next generation, mixing sorted and unsorted stuff alike into my marriage, parenthood, and the relationships I have with friends and coworkers and siblings and random strangers and blog readers. I feel compelled to sort as best I can in the time I have. We’re all wading through the muck in our own way. Sort it out or get stuck in it. Pass on the best quotations and try to leave the worst behind.
The world is full of loud people sorting their stuff out in public. The people who have sorted things out a bit better in their lives tend to avoid that kind of look at me spotlight. Which makes the world seem quite mad if you look around at all the screamers, zealots and provokers prodding for your attention. I’m inclined to tune out the noise, seek out the well-sorted souls and build my house of quotations from better material. A foundation built in muck will only sink. Climb to the higher, more solid ground, look around at the better view, and set your foundation there. If nothing else it makes for more stable ground for those who follow you to build on.